Saturday, November 15, 2008

Warts and All

Woke up this morning at six a.m. (don't scowl--that's two hours sleeping in for me) and finished the latest Netflix (a reunion with the movie "San Francisco" with Clark Gable), downloaded the latest podcasts, and then gathered up the laundry, dressed and walked out into the warm sunshine. I dropped off the laundry and waited for the Number 6. Two 6's passed us up--they headed up the hill fully operational and came down the hill past us with "GARAGE" on the marquee. Knowing Muni you have to wonder if they just slapped that up there to avoid passengers and get back, but I left it alone--wait for the third.

Once it came I plugged in DJ Shadow and coyly watched a handsome guy trying to figure me out in the seat on my left. (Sometimes you're attracted but not enough to ask for the date, make sense?) I got off at Kate's Kitchen, non-chalantly seated myself at a table for two, ordered juice and cheese/onion biscuits and sausage gravy and read the Kindle. Peace. After breakfast I thought I might walk to the trolley stop on Market and go downtown, but everyone was heading that way for the Prop 8 protests, so I camped at Caffe Trieste and caught up on the handwritten work. Still peace. Like an a-freight-train-probably-won't-stop-this-contentment kind of peace.

At noon I walked to Church Street Station and headed to West Portal for therapy, and then, after the appointment stopped for ice cream at Shaw's.

Enter freight train.

Usually when the peace starts peeling away is when I have worked my ass off all week and listened to everyone else whining at work and worked for my employees because that's this company's mentality (inmates running the asylum), and then I come into the weekend, indulge in myself, and right in the middle of the rare indulgence the City wants me to bleed even more from the turnip. Example: worked ass off all week taking care of everyone else, run errands and work on psyche with doctor, and then treat myself to a cone and have about two bites in my mouth out on the sidewalk when this happens:

"Can you spare a dollar?"

Chrissakes. Obviously the message is that I can--nobody stops into a mom-and-pop business in the City and pays for a three dollar and fifty-cent cone with a debit card. And I was the one balls-y enough to buy a cone and eat in front of everyone on the sidewalk in the sunshine, so I am fair game, right? The attitude of panhandlers in the City is stand in front of a business or ATM and ask for cash. Who in their right mind will turn you down?

But that's where Jo shamefully turns into a Republican, and the sky that was full of peace and sunshine darkens a little and Jo grits out of her cold-sensitive teeth, "No, I can't," because she WORKED HARD ALL DAMN WEEK FOR NEARLY 70 HOURS TO GET PAID FOR FORTY OF THEM AND THIS JACKASS IS ASKING FOR A FREE RIDE. I CAN'T EVEN ENJOY AN ICE CREAM CONE OUTDOORS WITHOUT HAVING TO BRING ENOUGH FOR THE WHOLE CLASS.

The panhandler passes and I find something to please my eye before the ice cream turns to poison in my mouth. Right about that time a guy walks up to where I'm standing, taps on a pack of cigarettes, and lights up.


Panhandler to smoker finding the only space on the sidewalk where someone is eating to smoke, AND he picks upwind. Full inhale of Marlboro, I get. Not knocking the habit, I'm not. BUT HONEST TO GOD, DO YOU HAVE TO COME TO ME, STAND TWO FEET FROM ME, ACKNOWLEDGE ME, AND SMOKE WHILE I EAT? FIFTY PLACES YOU COULD HAVE STOOD WHERE NO ONE IS STANDING, AND YOU WANT TO SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH ME OF ALL PEOPLE?

Anyone want to stand on the other side of me and talk on their cell phone?

I look up in the sky, as if to ask the question of all pessimists, and remember what I have in my hand. I have a mexican chocolate ice cream in a waffle cone. It is not in fact poison and it can't in fact be taken away from me unless I let it. I remember the glow I felt on the bus with the handsome guy and the City watching me out of the corner of their eyes. I remember the better parts of the City. I walk down the sidewalk a ways and stand in shade and feel cooler and calmer.

This City is wonderful. But a relationship with it is hard work. Worth it, yes, but hard work.

And I completely understand if you think me un-Christian for not giving the panhandler a dollar. That won't change. I'm okay with heading to hell for that.

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