Arts and CultureSan Francisco

$2 Ride in Hell: The Dirty 38 Geary

Updated: Sep 17, 2013 14:02
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When you’re a young and curious broke ass, coming up with $2 and stepping onto the SF MUNI can be a very thrilling and sexual experience. But the thing to remember is you have to make sure you’re ready for this responsibility. When two people love each other very much, they sometimes have urges to ride the MUNI; however, it’s very important to be sure you’ve prepared yourself for this encounter. True, you may see a total fox that’s eyeing you from across the aisle, but sometimes you may see a homeless person with their hand down their pants. The real beauty is you never really know which it’s going to be. But more often than not, it’s Big Reggie smiling at you with a toothless grin.

There is one bus line in particular that really makes me want to drive needles through my eyeballs to guarantee I will never have to witness such painful images again. When I first moved to this city, I was working late in the Financial District. Every night at 11:30pm, I’d catch the 38 (or the Dirty-8 if you will), which goes through the Tenderloin on its way to Ocean Beach. You may think that at this time of night, things would have slowed down and you could actually score a seat in this tin can full of broken dreams. Think again.

One night really stands out in my mind. I was looking at a scrubby man sitting a couple of feet away from me. I was thinking about his life, his past and how frustrating it must feel to be a human being with nowhere to turn and no one there to give you a chance. Immediately, my thought process was interrupted when he reached into his shirt and started scratching with a vengeance. He then pulled his hand out, picked underneath his fingernails and flicked whatever it was that he found onto the floor of the bus. When we reached his stop, he made sure to touch every pole before exiting (this is why it’s important to always wash your bus hands).

Another time, I was sitting near a group of young girls in the back. They were laughing, being super cute and made me remember how fun and innocent middle school was. Then, a mother and her daughter stepped on the bus and worked their way towards the back to get some empty seats. The mother accidentally nudged the foot of one of the girls from the group with hers, and that’s when they all started screaming and cussing her out while she sat there silent and terrified the entire time. It actually got to the point where they were telling the lady’s daughter that her mom was an “ugly bitch” and they were going to throw her “old ass in front of the bus.”

Between these horrifying events, countless people shamelessly vomiting and the jars of urine rolling around underneath the seats, I’d have to say this bus line may have been invented by the devil himself. There are plenty of options to protect yourself, but the only way to truly prevent these experiences is 100% abstinence from the 38 Geary. I trust you’ll make the right decision.

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Ryan Miller- Depleted Resource Analyst

Ryan Miller- Depleted Resource Analyst

Ryan Miller was raised in a small, quaint village named Portland, Oregon before spontaneously packing two suitcases, scrounging up $300 and catching a flight to San Francisco. Judging from his garbage, he is a connoisseur of Sun Chips and rather inexpensive wine. His personal goals are to refrain from hailing and accepting rides in random cars as well as greatly reduce the amount of hugs he provides for the homeless community. While touring Jamaica and prompted for his opinion on the prevalence of TB in third world countries, Miller eagerly asked, "They have Taco Bell here?"


  1. Dini
    August 19, 2009 at 11:30 am

    LOL – I love it! I can’t stop laughing!Very well-written! When is the next party bus Stu? 🙂

  2. Elan Gaite
    August 19, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Although I find this article very witty and charming I cannot help but feel a raging anger in the pit of my swelled belly. I ride this bus often and me and my wife met and got married on this bus. The marriage only lasted two weeks, but that is besides the point. Abstinence is for pussies and I do not use this term lightly or light flow or light showingly. I like to dance. Is this casual encounters? Sorry, I will post in the proper area next time. Please don’t fag me.

    • Ryan Miller- Depleted Resource Analyst
      August 19, 2009 at 12:33 pm

      Hey Elan,
      I was riding for your ceremony and it was beautiful. I’m still sorry things didn’t work out between you and Bruce, she was stunning in that dress and we’ll never know why she took your money and ran off to Puerto Villarta. That’s what this post is really about, I’ve seen too many marriages on the 38 end in divorce and it’s a tragedy. Hang in there buddy.

  3. […] (This story by Ryan is also posted at Broke-Ass Stuart’s Goddamn Website) […]

  4. August 19, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanmilesmiller

  5. August 19, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    I’m certain it is child’s play compared to the route 5 in Minneapolis. Though at least the drunks have the decency to ask the driver to stop so they can take a leak. Getting on the bus afterwards, however…

  6. johnny Blackwell
    August 21, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    I remember riding the 38 late night when I used to live at 25th and Geary. It was late and the bus became even more deserted the farther we got in the Richmond. Soon it was only me and one older guy in the back of bus. All of a sudden I see a cloud of smoke next to me. I laughed thinking it was funny how this old guy was toking up in the back of the bus. Then I smelled the smoke, it wasn’t the sweet smell of weed, but rather a nasty chemical smell. Motherfucker was smoking crack like 2 feet behind me. Thank god i was only 2 blocks from my house.

  7. Randy
    August 24, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Good article. I drive but use the Underground, #1, M, L on occasion, so I’m not captive to the vagaries of the transportation infrastructure of a “transit first” such as San Francisco. I can put up with most things except smell. The 38, a long line, has always been a steady articulator workhorse, and probably has a fair ridership compared to most lines. So you’re going to see a lot as it cuts across all the areas, downtown, TL, Western Addition, Masonic, Richmond. Another main gripe I have is that Muni is unreliable at night and for special events. I also ride the express to Candlestick at $10 a pop for a 40 minute ride, WAY over-priced.

  8. […] speeing up (and cleaning up) the 38 Geary (whose ridership figures rival those of some cities’ entire transit systems) […]

  9. October 27, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    […] list of complaints against the 38 is long, and you hear them frequently: overcrowding, unhygenic fellow passengers, frequent stops due to traffic and lights, tagging, robberies, even con men from time to time. […]

  10. September 17, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Ahhh, this brings back wonderful memories. Call me crazy (I had to be to live in a tiny 10″ x 10″ co-op off Geary St) but I loved riding the 38. More reliable than the 47 Van Ness and much less likely to be the subject of a gang fight like the 14 Mission.

    Piss is a possibility on ANY Muni bus. But if you’re looking for old guys rubbing one out for your morning commute, believe it or not the 19 Polk is the way to go. You are welcome.

    p.s. I live in Virginia now. And scarred for life.

  11. Nicole
    September 18, 2013 at 7:19 am

    I am an SF native and lived on the 38 line for 5 years as an adult and I really wonder if I was just blind to all the of horrors of the Dirty-8 or if this is all a recent phenomenon. Sure I saw some not-so-great things but I never saw anyone vomit or jars of piss rolling around. I also don’t know if I would say that it’s actually the worst line, maybe one of the more used and one of the longest in the city. But I always thought that the 14 and 49 were pretty bad (growing up in the outter Mission I saw my fair share of fights and such and I am pretty sure someone got stabbed on one of those lines a couple years ago). I also remember the 67 not being too hot (well quite the opposite, once someone sprayed pepper spray on the bus and we all had to get off!). So really is the 38 as bad as I keep hearing?