It was a beautiful day in San Francisco, Ca. yesterday.
Yesterday I went out of my way to get beyond my comfort zone.
I went to S.F. on public transport early, so encountered the packed railroad cars that are the everyday environment of millions of commuters every working day. Lucky for me I did not stand up more than two minutes before a lovely young lady offered me her seat. Since it only took five minutes from the last aboveground stop on the Oakland side to the Embarcadero, there were plenty of seats after reaching S.F.
I was meeting a friend at the library there for story time, and had an hour to mosey around Market walking from Powell to Civic Center. There are still “gentlemen’s clubs” advertising “girls” and the usual homeless along the way. In 1957 I traversed the same distance with a male relative who was worried about my safety as I was wearing white short shorts. Well, I was wearing my running shoes too, and would not have been in any danger.
Today, as a grey haired backpacking granny, I do not incur any interest at all from the junkies, homeless, pan handlers, or revivalists.
I had a need for a snack, and dropped by the Carl Jr’s there near Civic Center, and ordered a bean burrito, which is hard to find now a days. The really good ones were at Naugles out in Mojave, Ca.
The rest room was out of order there at Carl’s and if one ventured in anyway, it locked you in. There was a Security guard with his own dedicated table and he announced this restroom condition all over as he was wiping tables.
Besides me and the servers who were Hispanic, the clientele were 100% African American of both genders. As a matter of fact, the whole stretch of Market Street from 6th to 8th hosts African American men. They all seem to know one another and greet each other with incomprehensible utterings of friendliness.
Or maybe the street noise and my slight deafness had something to do with not understanding anything.
At the main library the restrooms were also closed for repair, and we were directed to the ones on the lower level. I got in line with a group of French speaking women, and noticed that out of 6 booths, one was out of service. The one I chose naturally had no toilet tissue.
At the main library I met my friend Chris, who has two children in his day care program that he brings to story time. They sat down in front to get the full benefit of the story and songs in Spanish and English, while we whispered in the background. Well, I did sing along too.
Now I remember that Chris did not check out any material, but since he does not stay indoors much, and is always on the move with the kids, that is understandable.
He leaves reading to kids to the experts.
After story time we then went uphill to the Tenderloin District through another phalanx of druggies, sleeping bodies on the sidewalks, discarded needles, and dog poop. Of course there are the required urine smells to waft us on our way.
At the Park and Rec building is an indoor playground with all sorts of toys and small trikes, roller skates, and small slides. Playdough is not allowed at Chris’ home, so if his charges want to indulge that is the place to do it.
We sat and colored on new dot matrix printer paper, and I tore the edges off of mine.
We had some difficulty with replacing the caps on the ink pens, but Chris signed his and saved the art work.
After cleanup, we all sat in a circle on kindergarten chairs and had story and songs again. This time the leader took us through several books, and we sang our old favorites (not) The Wheels on the Bus, and What is Your Name?
That was fun, as we had in attendance a fully robed and masked mother in the black burka.
The only things visible were her hands always holding a red cell phone, and her eyes. When it came to her turn she could not be understood as to what her name was or her son’s, and the leader had to ask several times.
I am sure she was a good looking lady, but she never interacted with any of the other parents, and let her son play by himself while she talked on her cell.
When it came to lunch, we had homemade tortillas, beans and rice dish, passionfruit juice, sliced apples and pears, and steamed baby carrots.
The cheese slices were great and I had to resist going back for seconds on that! I noticed that the black clad Muslim lady never ate anything, but hand fed her son who should have been able to handle that by himself. Babies get hand fed, five year olds eat with a spoon or fingers like everyone else.
I left to catch the train before it got too crowded with the commuters returning home, and was back in Alameda by 3:15.
I have been visiting San Francisco since I can remember in 1946 or so, and have enough memories to last me when I am out in the wilderness far from congested cities. It is a wonderful place to visit and I hope many more French and German tourists show up but now nobody in the family can afford to live there.