Wednesday, October 15, 2008

big city blues

I love cities passionately, despite the fact that I'd never really had much of anything to do with them before going to college in Boston. I don't really ever want to live outside a large city again. But despite of that personal passion, there is no disputing the fact that the urban charms can pall sometimes.

Today I grabbed a quick, cheap lunch between my ceramics class and picking up Lucy (Leper Lucy has been admitted back to kindergarten, so long as she keeps a bandage over her staph lesion). While I was eating, a panhandler sat down at the few outside tables and would NOT shut up, constantly harassing the sole other woman eating outdoors, all passersby, and eventually me, whom he called "a fucking bitch" for not giving him money. I do actually give beggars money more often than the average person, but I'm not going to reward someone for ruining my only quiet, relaxing moment of the day.

Driving the children home, a well-dressed man in a wheelchair who was on the sidewalk and not anywhere near entering the road screamed at me psychotically, "YOU CAN'T GO THROUGH THE CROSSWALK!" He was in such a rage that he seemed at risk of a stroke. Although I do yield for pedestrians, the point remains that cars need to go through crosswalks, or it would not be possible to drive further than the length of one block. An empty crosswalk is fair game, crazy, screaming guy (incidentally nice tie, crazy guy).

In general the roads have been abhorrent lately. I said in frustration to Lucy the other day, "Did someone declare National Idiots Go Driving Week and forget to tell me?" I tried to figure out if the influx of stupidity in the streets had some relationship to Columbus Day or Fleet Week, but I didn't arrive at any persuasive theorem.

More dramatically, some addicts burnt a beautiful pink Victorian down just a block from my house. We saw the fire, so huge and amazing, when we woke up from our windows (watching the firemen gradually put it out was spellbinding), and later in the morning my neighbor and I walked over to rubberneck close up. We saw the firemen carrying charred remains of furniture out of the building, and a tense woman in a green bathrobe erupted as a desk was put down. "Take a picture of that!" It was a partially destroyed desk containing many boxes of syringes.

"Is that person we took to the hospital earlier on insulin?" a fireman asked quickly, grabbing his phone.

"On METH more like," snapped back the green bathrobed one. "This is a drug house! We see people getting high outside all the time!"

I slipped the woman in the bathrobe a note with my address and phone number. "I only live a block away, if you need to borrow anything, like clothes or a phone." She hugged me and reassured me that she'd only needed to temporarily evacuate her apartment, which was next door to the burnt-down building.

The neighbors are all abuzz about news that the Mikes, a delightful gay couple both possessed of the same first name, were burgled. Evidently this occurred some time ago and the news has been slow to disseminate (and evidently also the Mikes are tired of being asked about it). Our next-door-neighbor also had a package stolen from her front stoop as well, and there is vague muttering about how we should start a neighborhood watch program. I wasn't so surprised about the package going missing, as that neighbor's front door is right on the street. An unchaperoned package would, as I remarked to my next-door neighbor from the other side, be a considerable temptation even to someone like me, who loves her neighbors, if it were from an exciting shipper. "What, like Good Vibrations?" quipped my gay male neighbor. I wondered if he felt free to make that sort of crack to all the straight women in his life or just us drunken ones.

I've always felt that my block was one of the safest, most serene blocks of all of San Francisco, but my complacency is feeling a bit shaken.


Freewheel said...

"In general the roads have been abhorrent lately."

Definitely. Check this out this email that's going around:

If you never forward anything else, please forward this to all your contacts... this is very scary to think of... better heed this and pray about it and share it.

A RADICAL terrorist organization has been breaking into cars at night and soaking the upholstery with a Columbian drug called “burundanga.” The fumes -- sometimes confused with that new car smell -- can instill a feeling of omnipotence along with a total disregard for others on the road. Basically, those who inhale the burundanga fumes turn into zombie drivers (awake and talkative but unable to drive properly or share the road with others).

The government is taking great care to conceal the facts about the terrorist burundanga outbreak. If asked, government officials are quick to say that they have no information or that nothing has been confirmed. But keep in mind that the government has a strong interest in preventing a widespread panic.

If ever there was a reason to stop driving, THIS IS IT!!! The only way to determine who the zombie drivers are is for all of the non-zombies to get out of their cars. If at all possible, don’t drive at all! Walk, ride a bike, or take public transit. And stay alert for zombie drivers!!!

Captain Steve said...

I'm with you. I love living in town. I miss living in town. But sometimes, yeah, it was a little. . . interesting.