You can tell by the number of people waiting at the corner of Fillmore and McAllister during one recent morning that it’s been a while since an inbound #5 Fulton has come down the street.
The futility comes from the fact that the next bus that comes will be full, because if these people here have been waiting for a long time so has everybody else upstream. One option would be to use your two good legs (which most of of the people shown certainly have) and hoof it downstream towards Gough or Van Ness, where a significant number of people get off, leaving you with room to get on no matter how full the bus is.
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Some people just crane their necks and stare up the street as a coping strategy. That technique will work as well, but it takes a while sometimes.
(Things will only get busier around here when the Western Addition Obama Phone Bank (they prefer it if you B.Y.O.C. Bring Your Own Cellie) gets cooking at the West Bay Conference Center on 1290 Fillmore near Eddy.)