Posted by: facetothewind | July 31, 2012

Carfree Ain’t Always Carefree

Well, it’s interesting sometimes when life takes you on an adventure you hadn’t planned on. I’m writing this from a cold and dark abandoned conference room at a run down Days Inn in Santa Rosa.

How did I get here? By decree of some bozo bus driver on the Golden Gate Transit who was, “Just doing my job.” He would not let me on the half-empty bus with my suitcase. “Has to go under the seat.” What about the empty seat next to me, I pleaded? “Nope, safety hazard.” The Hispanic woman ahead of me pleaded for me, “You can’t just leave him here. He can put the suitcase on his lap.”

The toothless guy with the purple hair and heart-shaped rhinestone sunglasses offered to let me have his coffee that he couldn’t bring on board. Great. I could at least have some stranger’s leftover java while I sat on the street curb contemplating my next move.

The driver let on someone with a jumbo sized backpack and then closed the door without ever looking back at me. “You SUCK!” I yelled like he would hear it. I waved to the Hispanic woman and the guy with the purple hair through the tinted windows hoping they would see.

I don’t know, sometimes I am a magnet for bespectacled, bureaucratic bozos who just want to enforce their nonsensical rules on someone. They always choose me while overlooking everyone else probably because I look like someone they could do some damage to being that I’m wearing bright yellow and a sage-colored fedora.

So I sat on the street bench for a minute contemplating my next move. Here I am stranded 2 hours from San Francisco regretting not owning a car. So I figure best to just do SOMETHING – get moving. I start hoofing it down the street and pass a municipal office building. Out bounds a spectacularly beautiful, young Asian man sporting a big smile. Maybe he just got his marriage license or something? He smiles at me in a straight guy sort of way and says hello. I say hi back as I’m dragging my safety liability luggage behind me.

“How’s your day going?” he asks as he passes me.
“Terrible. How’s yours?”
“Great. Why is yours terrible?”
“I’m stranded in Santa Rosa because they wouldn’t let me on the bus with my luggage,” I tell him.
“Oh that’s terrible! Where ya headed?”
“San Francisco. And now I don’t know what to do.” I tell him hoping he’ll tell me that’s where he’s headed and we’ll drive off into the foggy city together.
“Let’s see…why don’t you try that taxi. Ask him where the nearest Greyhound bus station is. Taxi drivers know all that stuff.”
“Good idea. I’ll give it a try,” and I head across the street to the bright orange taxi, grateful for the suggestion and the smile.

I get the attention of the taxi driver and he tells me that the Greyhound picks folks up at the Days Inn down the road and he could take me there for $15. Oy. But good. I jump in. Then he tells me he’s from Tucson. Really? He went to school at the UofA where he studied plant sciences…that’s the campus annex right next to my house where the Tucson Village Farm sits! Bike by it every day.

We chat about all things Farm and he drops me off at the Days Inn. The next bus is 4 hours and $23 later. Oy part 2 or 3 or whatever oy we’re up to now. What to do for 4 hours?? Well, I decided to pull out my laptop, ask the Days Inn for their Internet password which they kindly gave me and I look up everyone I know who lives in Santa Rosa.

I start calling with my friend Chris Williams who happened to be looking for lunch right nearby. Yeah, Jeffrey (his bf) and I will come by and we’ll get some lunch. Really? My first call and my friend is nearby looking for lunch?

Within minutes Chris and Jeffrey pulled up and we went off in their truck for lunch and a rare chance to catch up and talk about all things Hawaii.

So all this to say lemons can definitely turn into lemonade if you’re open to it, if you ask for help and if you wear bright yellow and a sage fedora. And you never know WHO is going to help you…sometimes the very people you think would never help or whom you wouldn’t want to talk to.

Several times today I was the lucky recipient of kindness, magic and good fortune. It’s rich experiences like this that I don’t ask for but am grateful for and would never experience had I been spirited away in the comfort and privacy of my own car.

And maybe after lunch we can go back and get some of that coffee purple-haired dude left on the bench.


OK, so leave Chris and Jeffrey and prepare for the 3 pm bus which arrives at 4 pm and then leaves at 4:15. I’m sitting next to a an ex-convict who is talking over the seat to another ex-con behind us about which prisons in the Bay Area are the best…Marin apparently has the best lawyers and Folsom State has the meanest warden who keeps a log of who was hanged there. Do they really hang people? I don’t think so…but maybe that’s their slang for something like electrocution. Then the screaming baby starts. In fact it never ends. This is when I pop into my mouth a nice juicy half a Xanas and pop into my ears some seriously worn out earplugs. My good humor for the date had begun to fade after 8 hours of this American public transport nonsense.

Finally we get to San Francisco after a run through Oakland and a chance to sit in rush hour traffic. This is when I find out that it’s the Tuesday night SF Giants game at AT&T stadium which means there is nary a place to be had on the T trolley to where I need to go. I wait for 1 train, 2 trains. Both packed. I give up and decide to hoof it to my friend’s place which is exactly 2.1 miles…with luggage mind you. Here’s what this looked liked…

Usually when I’m down like this, an angel appears. Someone with a soft face and demeanor who says something soothing, or helps me in a way that energizes me and gives me hope. This would be some guy named Erik. I hope I got his name right. I stumbled into a taqueria near the ball park and was greeted by this lovely young man with bright eyes and a soft smile. I told him I was too exhausted to read the menu and would he pick something out for me. He did and I ate and we chatted about this and that. He’s a screenwriter and has hardly ever left the Bay Area except for a trip to Hawaii.

So here’s to you, Erik! The first kind face in San Francisco. May your writing career be a big success and thank you for nurturing me back to health by just a smile.

After 12 hours of travel I’m home. Thank you to Jennifer for taking me in and now onward to San Luis Obispo. May I never have to take a bus anywhere, ever again.


  1. This sounds like what it’s like to be on the road and mishaps turning into wonderful adventures! Damn! And I would have been happy to pick you up, too and take you … someplace, anyplace … even just for a cold drink! Sorry we missed each other once again when you were up in Ukiah … and again today here in Santa Rosa which is where I’m living! Anyway, imagine you are happily ensconced down in SF now – headed directly to SLO or in the city for awhile? I’m in SF working tomorrow. Take care and continue to have fun journeys! Aloha, Christina

  2. You do tell a wonderful story! Thanks for this, David. Oh, yeah, you sure look sexy in that fedora!

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