The Roman Empire. The Berlin Wall. Pay phones. Alf.
As history has proven, every monumental, culture-influencing development must eventually come to an end, sometimes unceremoniously. So is the case for The San Francisco Examiner’s Man vs. Muni series.
Wary of sullying the SF Examiner’s proud name, we’ve decided to wind down the monthly column where I get to race Muni transit vehicles on foot, opting to end the series before it became unfunny, redundant and a general waste of newspaper space. I know that many of you are wondering why this moment of clairvoyance didn’t come months ago.
For my swan song, I’ve decided to go back to the beginning and challenge the infamous bus line that started this column — the 30-Stockton.
In an upset that stunned the world back in February, the notoriously slow 30 beat me in a head-to-head competition. Determined to pay back the favor, I took on the bus in a rematch — racing it from Chinatown to Market Street.
12:03 SF Examiner photographer Mike Koozmin and I take off from the bus stop between Broadway and Pacific Avenue, two minutes before the arrival of the 30-Stockton. Deflated by our recent defeats, we don’t even try to pick a time of the day where traffic might be heavy on the corridor. 12:03 is completely arbitrary. Who cares?
12:05 As usual, Chinatown is packed to the gills with people. I make the judgment call to veer off the sidewalk and onto the street. For the last Man vs. Muni competition, we’re going rogue.
12:06 We get back on the sidewalk near Clay Street and mentally prepare for our entrance into the pit of doom, aka the Stockton Street Tunnel. I see my buddy Drew, but can’t stop to talk — I’ve got buses to beat down.
12:07 We pass Sacramento Street and enter the tunnel, a healthy three blocks in front of the 30-Stockton. It’s quiet in there. Too quiet. I decide to fart to ease the tension. It works — Koozmin snaps out of his malaise and picks up the pace. Victory, here we come.
12:09 We emerge from the Stockton Street tunnel unscathed, albeit a little smellier. I glance back in horror — I can see the 30’s headlights, glaring at me crazily as it sets to enter the tunnel.
12:10 An incredibly long red light has us marooned in front of Sutter Street as the 30-Stockton makes up precious time in the tunnel. We finally get the green, but momentum has shifted.
12:11 Passing Geary Street and the hordes of holiday shoppers, Koozmin and I actually extend our lead. The 30 has exited the tunnel, but it’s stuck in a morass of automobile traffic. Thank you Union Square for your stifling traffic conditions!
12:12 Koozmin and I have enough of a lead to transition our pace from competition walking to showboat strutting. I raise my hand in triumph as we near Ellis Street.
12:14 We set foot on Market Street, easily besting the 30-Stockon, giving validation for this column, and, in some small way, our profession. We gloat as the 30 pulls up one minute behind us. In an interesting twist, a second 30-Stockton, with no one on board, arrives just a few seconds later. Note to Muni: This is why people hate you.
12:15 Final results from my yearlong competition against Muni: Four wins and five losses, including one incredibly close defeat. That’s a winning percentage of .444, which I’m pretty sure would put me first on the all-time list of Warriors coaches. I’ll take it.