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Monday, January 08, 2007

photo by jenny bolis...

San Francisco is an odd city. It seems to be filled with ideas that never fully form but ache to expand and push forward. Is it too poetic to write that it is a city full of possibilities hidden in the fog? Maybe so. But, they are hiding there. These promises hang in the air. Half-starts are all around here. I like this "incomplete-ness" for some reason. And, by and large, I have always found it to be a "friendly" city. Everyone always seems to disagree with me on this point. Tho, I am happy here. I enjoy roaming the city, feeling the rush of sun and cool wind that managed to make me both sweat and shiver at the same time --- and, I never fail to have some form of adventure during the course of my day.

Today, I had to "run" an errand. I say "run" because it was more of a slow walk as my back is still hurting. I didn't have my iPod with me. I forgot it. I passed a large group of folks from somewhere in China. There was an overly happy white guy standing in front of this group of puzzled-looking people. So, I found myself stopping for a minute to listen to what this almost manic man was saying. He spoke too loud. Like those annoying people who think that a non-English speaking person will understand them if they scream every word.

"If you get lost, just reach out and stop someone and say, 'Help me! I'm lost!' This is a VERY friendly city and you will be assisted!"

A queer urban hispster was standing next to me and he chuckled. I turned and looked at him and he said, "This IS NOT a friendly city! Yeah, reach out and touch someone. That'll work!" I smiled and he walked away. He was wearing really cool orange shoes.

About an hour later I was seated on an F Train headed to the Castro. A man who smelled like old newspapers got on at the Powell/Market stop and asked me if I could spare him a dollar. I reached into my jacket pockets. I had five quarters. I gave him four. His hands looked so dry, tired and old.

I smiled and said, "My mom used to give me incredibly small amounts of money and then advise me to not spend it all in one place. The funny thing is she was always serious about that."

We both laughed.

We rode on in silence. I watched out the window wondering what things had gone on in some of these seedy little hotels you pass when going through the Tenderloin. I think we had been riding about five minutes. And, this man, who had been rolling those four quarters from one hand to the other, turned to me. He thanked me for speaking to him.

"You're the first person to actually talk to me in three days. I had started to think I was invisible. A lady gave me a dime an hour ago and asked me not to use it to buy drugs. What a stupid bitch. You know why I wanted this money?"


"I have to do my laundry. I stink. I have to do my laundry and she gives me a fucking dime and thinks I'm going to buy drugs. With ten fucking cents! I wanted to throw the dime right back at her."

I laughed. He laughed. The lady across from us looked at us with this look of total disgust.

"This is my stop! Hey, kid, you have a great day!" ....The man got up and lurched forward as the F train sort of slammed into the stop. I pulled out my wallet and handed him a five dollar bill.

"You'll need that for the dry cycle."

He took it, smiled and jumped off the train.

Maybe this is not a friendly city. But, I like to pretend that it is. Of course, this has always been my problem. I love to pretend.


Blogger Melliferous Pants said...

My favorite San Francisco moment was spent with a Vietnam vet named James. I guess that makes me a pretender, too.

1:46 PM  
Blogger matty said...

Oh, Melliferous -- That moment sounds lovely! You've left me hanging! I want to know a bit more about this moment spent with James!!! And, I just checked -- you've no blog listed! Well, if you return to my space here I hope you will share a bit of that memory. And, I think the world needs more pretending.

...great pretenders.

G Love & The Special Sauce, eh? ...He's going to be at the Warfield soon!

2:03 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

And not for a second did I think that you were in any part "pretending". I loved what you did Matt. I love you.

2:39 PM  
Blogger matty said...

Robert -- Aw! You made my day! And, trust me - it needed to be made! You would have done the same thing! With much love, matt.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Old Cheeser said...

That's a lovely story Matty, good on you. I must admit I am nowhere near as generous with homeless people although occasionally I will give them something. It's true it doesn't take much to help.

3:14 PM  
Blogger matty said...

Old Cheeser! Well, believe me - I'm no saint or anything. There have been far too many times when I've just walked by and out-and-out ignored folks who ask me to spare money. And, I'm sure I will do it again. There was just something about this moment that made me pause and think about my actions. I am going to try to be more like that, but all I can do is try. And, I will not always manage it. Especially given how aggressive some of the SF population can be. Many can be out and out mean. I'm not likely to ever give anyone anything if they are mean about it. But, I hope to think more about how I handle myself.

5:55 PM  
Blogger Topher said...

Ya know, you pretend about something and it becomes real soon enough.

6:25 PM  
Blogger matty said...

Kris - I think you're exactly right! Pretending is the first step to action. Dream, pretend, wish -- then move forward with wild abandon! The key to life is to live it to the fullest without fear --- and, to live it with plenty of joy, love and hope!

6:47 PM  
Blogger joe said...

I'm going to pretend I'm half as lovable as you.

7:17 PM  
Blogger matty said...

Joe --- That is soooooo sweet! You are too much of a doll!

9:23 PM  
Blogger Me said...

Matty you are so sweet. You've got BIG karmic points coming to you. The more good you project into the world the better it will be, at least in your sphere of existance. Which is likely why your perception of S.F is a good one and Mr. Snarky Hipster's isn't.
Hugs to you my dear!

11:38 PM  
Blogger ing said...

(I tried to post this comment earlier, but blogger was down -- but here you go, my friend):

I get a little gun-shy, myself. Sometimes my generosity backfires on me because people end up wanting more and more. Some days I don't have a lot to give, and generosity becomes this trap. I feel like I end up assisting people when I am the one in need of assistance.

Is that weird?

So backing off becomes this defense mechanism because I get spread so thin.

11:58 PM  
Blogger matty said...

Lovely Meredith! Oh, I need a hug! Thanks! And, I need some positive karma energy! I think the way cool urban hipster with the great orange shoes is OK. I think he is probably more correct. I just don't want to believe life is that way. I find it harder to push thru it if I fall into that line of thought. So, for me, in my rose color'd glasses -- it is friendly city. I'm gonna make it friendly! LOL!

(and when I find employment again and have some money -- I want some cool orange shoes!)

Ing - Hey, yeah! Blogger has so been sucking as of late! I had trouble getting it to let me do anything yesterday. Oy! I understand that. I think we all get that spread too thin feeling and it sucks. Stay true to your feelings and gut instincts. And, let's get you less spread. Wait. That sounds wrong. Let's help each other get it together -- which we do. But I think you and me need extra help right now. That's what friends do!

7:32 AM  
Blogger Topher said...

Weird, I can't seem to find your post about those movies.. And I was about to put them on queue too at Blockbuster (T_T) Friends With Money was good, me liked it.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Melliferous Pants said...

Sorry! Didn't mean to leave you hanging. You can read about the afternoon I ran into James here.

9:29 AM  
Blogger matty said...

Kris -- That is odd! I will email you a link in a couple of hours. Am on the run at the moment -- or, am about to be. Blogger/Google has not been running very well at all. I guess I will have to make the move to Typepad this weekend. Oy! I'm glad you enjoyed that film. I really loved it.

Melliferous! Oh, thank you!!! I can't wait to read about it!!!

9:36 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

What is this world gonna be like without you Matty? Always so kind and giving and loving. :)

4:12 PM  
Blogger matty said...

Matt - LOL! I don't think it would miss me all that much! But, I do hope I don't have to leave anytime soon! And, thank you sweetie!

We need to get together, hang and see a movie sometime!!!!

I started to look for you at your haunt today but felt I needed to focus on finding jobs to which I could apply. I only found 4. Oy!

Will I ever be employed! And not a single call back!!! Ugh!

4:29 PM  
Blogger The Brian said...

Great little moment there. Thanks for sharing.

5:06 AM  
Blogger Kalvin said...

I really loved this story. I have such a habit of dehumanizing the homeless. I think we often do that with drugs too e.g. Junkie meaning a person is an object of no worth. You're a far better man than I.

12:54 PM  
Blogger matty said...

The Brian - Thanks!

Kalvin - I am not any better than anyone. You're a great guy! But, thank you for the sweet comment. And, I do agree that we all tend to fall into the trap of de-humanizing people. We are all people and it isn't that far of a fall for any of us.

1:35 PM  

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