Apparently, while you can hang from the side of a trolley car in San Francisco, you cannot swing from it like you're "George of the Jungle."
At least that is what the trolley operators will tell you. They will yell at you if you hang out even slightly from the car while it is moving, and tell you, "Whatever you've seen people do on TV, don't do it here."
They will threaten to throw you off the trolley, if you do not comply with the rules.
It kind of takes the fun out of riding the trolley when you have to pack into it like a tightly sealed can of sardines.
Then again, when one drunk passenger starts bragging about how he came only millimeters away from getting his head ripped off by a trolley coming from the opposite direction one night (the trolleys pass uber close to each other on the street), you start getting the idea behind the rules.
Now, rules aside (because the operators can be real Nazis at times), trolley cars can be really cool to ride in. You get a choice of sitting in an inside compartment, benches on the outside, or hanging from sidebars. It is mostly an all-wood interior, and from the looks of the wood, the cars have been in service for a very long time.
The annoying parts can be when the trolley is going down hill, because San Francisco has steep hills and everyone goes flying forward as the trolley goes down one of these steep hills. Add to that the fact that the brakes bring the trolley to a sudden stop at trolley stops, causing people to fly even farther forward.
Oh, and do not get me started on the brakes themselves. They grind whenever the trolley is coming to a stop, in exactly the same way the wheels on your car grind when you apply the brakes, but have no brake pads left.
Then, you go up the hill, and gravity starts pulling everyone backwards as the trolley ascends to the top of the hill. On one of my trips on a trolley, another passenger's hat ended up flying off and landing in the middle of the road at one point (although the seemingly break-neck speed at which the trolley was moving probably played a role in that).
My calves ended up getting a good workout, even when I was sitting on a trolley, because I had to keep using my lower legs to brace myself while going up or down a hill.
The ironic thing about riding the trolleys is the fact that they are run by the same group that operates the bus system in the city, and yet the trolleys cost $5 per ride, while the bus only costs $2 per ride.
You can get an all-day pass for the trolley, that lets you hop on and off at will, for a mere $13.
My only guess is that the high price for the trolley is due to it being a tourist attraction. I have no clue, really, because it was such an inconsequential thing to ask, so I never posed that query to anyone.
Really, it is a pretty high price, but everyone is willing to pay it, just to say they got to ride on the San Francisco trolley.
Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.