‘Summertime’ in the City

The inability to see or read the head sign of a bus, or to know where to stand based upon stalled traffic or double parked vehicles notwithstanding, one detail that usually does not escape notice in our fair city is when our air temperature is not fair. The afternoon fog moves in, the temperature drops and those who do not live here become obvious to even the denizens of sidewalk cracks, the suits leaving a tower of high finance, and unfortunately, the thieves and pickpockets looking for a quick take. 

As I drive my bus past the humanity walking by, I point out to visitors on board my bus how we spot tourists instantly. They are curious as to how I know they are not residents of our city when I pick them up. True, the ability to read others becomes fine tuned within our senses as the years add up behind the wheel, but it can also be much simpler.  We key in on what you are wearing.

If an entire family is wearing brand new hoodies and sweat tops with Alcatraz images, it is obvious the ferry ride over to the famous prison island caught them unawares of how cold our sea breeze hits the skin. Especially true when traveling the rails of a boat over the bay or waiting for a bus on a hill.  

The current gold rush becomes apparent. The gold is not in the hills at Sutter’s Mill. The gold is found by selling hoodies and sweat shirts to tourists at Fisherman’s Wharf; or out of a blanket atop Twin Peaks.  It can even be mined from a handbag held side saddle with a wide open top or side pocket.

Not limited to the wharf, other places, such as tour bus vista stops, also become a bazaar for clothing sales. In order to bypass permits, vendors have all the shirts and gear laying on large blankets and sheets. If the spotter sees police cars coming up the hill on the road below, they quickly wrap the garments in the blanket and throw them over the rail. The clothing becomes invisible to the police in the patrol car when it passes by the vista point area. 

Most crime occurs because the police never exit their vehicle.  Beat patrols are always requested, but hard to fill. I argue with others, it is not more cops we need, but pavement pounders on the beat. We are not a car culture city. Our streets have not changed when it comes to foot traffic.  In fact, more people are walking than ever before. This is one reason we become slender after living here for a few years.

July is the number one month for visitors: Central Valley residents beating the heat, Europeans using their generous vacation time, and the occasional and rare Midwesterner’s family visiting a young family member just moved into the city. Its fun to watch a new city resident train their family on how to pay the fare and ride the bus. I really have to watch my self to make sure I don’t go overboard on being a driver guide instead of a city transit operator, but it makes for a fun ride.

Great places for selfies and shots with friends are the Hearts of San Francisco on the corners of Union Square. Alamo Square by the Painted Ladies has landscaping of new trees and freshly sodded green grass. New plumbing for sprinklers and a bathroom have also been upgraded. The Victorian beauties abound around the 4 block square, and look great as a backdrop for a picture. 

I like to point out the four different styles of the turn-of-the-century architecture, and to see where a house lost a complete story in the ’06 earthquake, and if the rounded windows in the cupola were replaced by conventional flat windows. Lots where a newer house stands, point to a fire in the past where an old house didn’t survive with its’ neighbors. Our city history is chock full of these old hotspots. Not so with the afternoon temperatures in July!

If you want to cool off on a vacation in July, San Francisco is the place to be!  Most notably, the day after the Fourth of July. The Fourth of July to Labor Day is fog and wind and freezing your ass off.

The best times to schedule a visit for warm sunny weather are mid May, mid June, early September and early October. Otherwise, bring a jacket, a hoodie, and even a beanie! But don’t worry, we’ll sell you and Alcatraz hoodie or SanFranPsycho beanie!

Published by driverdoug2002

Driver Doug is a 29 year resident of the city by the bay, and has been a transit operator for the San Francisco Municipal Railway for almost 20 years. His current run is on the 21 Hayes trolleybus line from the Ferry Plaza to Golden Gate Park. His interests include photography and writing, and this latest essay, The Trolleybus of Happy Destiny, is a composition including anecdotes and photo illustrations from his experience behind the wheel of a city transit bus.

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