Some Days Life is Not a Leisurely Stroll
The San Francisco bay area is considered to be one of the most dynamic, fascinating, and beautiful places to live on the planet. 99 days out of 100 I agree wholeheartedly, and enjoy my walks, drives, thoughts, meals, and discoveries. The one day out of 100 that goes south, usually goes straight to hell.
I live in Mountian View and take the train to my office in San Francisco 3 to 4 days a week. Juliet and I just moved to a brand new apartment with a great view, modern plumbing, and very little space for a hefty price tag. Since I promised Juliet if we take the smaller apartment she may decorate as she likes, it quickly became apparent there would be no room for my huge photo editing studio and I would have to take on a bigger office in the city. In order to get all my equipment into my new office I had to take the car to work on Tuesday. Tuesday was my 1% day.
I arrived at 404 Bryant street at approximately 9:45 am. The drive had been much smoother than I expected it to be. While I missed being able to zone out and play with Instagram on my phone, like I do when I take the train, I was able to crank some Glen Hansard on my killer Acura audio system that made the time go quickly. I arrived at the office and pulled into a metered spot just in front of the building. When I turned off the car I noticed a transient standing just outside my driver window pushing a city trash can towards me.
Transient: Can you get out?
Me: Not if you keep pushing the trash can towards my door
The man backed the can up just enough for me to get out and get a close look at him. He stood nearly 6 feet tall, weighed about 165, and had greasy hair that was likely darker from dirt than its natural clean color would have been. He wore an over-sized brown coat and blue trousers. His white(ish)T- shirt and beat up athletic shoes were covered in street grime. His Caucasian skin was tan, his eyes were dark and hollow, his motion was affected but not stumbling, and he had only the faintest aroma of b.o. He backed up a bit as I got out of my car and when I saw him staring at my custom black Texas license plate, with a prominent white star, I knew he was going to engage me.
Transient: Are you the governor of Texas?
Me: No, no I'm not (trying to quickly walk away)
Transient: This aircraft is not allowed here. You did not get clearance for this landing space
Me: (quick over-the-shoulder glance and check of my phone)
Transient: I'm going to have to inspect this aircraft (whips open the right side of his jacket to reveal a mimed "badge")
Me: stay away from my car
I walked into the office and the office manager was pleased to see me and show me options for my new "full-time" desk. I took a moment to announce to the office that there were tryouts for "The Walking Dead" taking place in front of the building and that if anyone wanted to audition they better hurry because I was certain a most qualified person was already parading about in character.
The OM and I went out to grab some more of my things when the vagrant began yelling at us.
Transient: You two have no right to this airspace! I will contact Arnold Schwarzenegger and he will TEAR YOU APART!
I ignored the screaming and carried the last two boxes towards the door. I stepped down into the breezeway just in front of my office when the homeless man jumped in behind and screamed again.
Transient: Hey! SOLDIER!
Me: (startled) If you do that again, things will not go so well for you
Transient: (stepping back and rolling up his grimy sleeves) come on, I will take you in. You CANNOT be in California....TEXAS!
Me: please leave me and my car alone.
He walked back up the stairs and I, stupidly, went across the street for a cup of coffee. I was gone all of ten minutes when I came back to find my car surrounded on all sides by overturned trash cans and my rear passenger-side tire was flat.
Me: (to the homeless man) what the fuck did you do? move all this shit!
I causally noticed a guy was sitting in a nice Lexus sedan talking on the phone and parked just in front of me. (and the action)
Transient: TEXAS is not welcome here. Governor Jerry Brown orders you to leave!
Me: I am calling the cops man, you cannot vandalize my car.
Transient: call anyone you want, CALL! you have no power here (flashing his imaginary badge again) I AM THE LAW
Me: (looking up police number on my iPhone)
Transient: TECHNOLOGY DOWN SOLDIER! (running up to me and shouting in my face)
Me: get away from me!
At that point the guy runs, picks up a soda can from the trash and pours the sugary remnants all over my beautiful black Acura TL. CORRECTION: my wife's beautiful Acura TL, and she does not like me driving it to the city. I had actually never taken the car to the city for work, not once. Now, the one time I do, a mentally disturbed man flattens my tire and pours a sugary, acidic, soda all over it. I am a bit of a hot-head by nature. I had allowed this to go on longer than I ever would if this man had not been insane, but at this point I deemed he was now too volatile, and I had to get rid of him.
Me: (chasing the guy and screaming like Thor!) Hey MOTHERFUCKER! I will fucking destroy you! I will rip your goddamn throat open and throw your fucking trachea in the road. You fuck! (a tribute to one of my favorite Schwarzenegger rants from the film The Running Man...I though it appropriate)
Transient (running away from me and into the middle of the busy street while once again "putting up his dukes" like a 1930s pugilist) come on TEXAS! wooooaaaah! woaaaah!!
I had assumed my heavy show of bark and implied force would send him running for the hills. As it was. I either had to make good on my claim and beat a mentally ill person to death on the streets of San Francisco in front of my office, or I had to go to plan B.
Luckily for me, the gentleman in the Lexus was actually on the phone to the cops and he shouted over to me that the police were indeed on their way. At this point the homeless man grabbed his shopping cart and began to flee the scene. The cops rolled in, we pointed to the "undercover agent" without a badge, and the officers quickly drug him down and put him in the car.
It turns out that the man had been accosting people all morning along this stretch of Bryant street, and 2 females had been held virtually hostage behind their doors because the man was throwing trash into their breezeways and screaming at them. I honestly felt terrible for the man and went as long as I could trying to ignore him till he forced my hand by maliciously assailing my vehicle. Regardless of the justification I had to become irate with the guy, I still felt like a miserably asshole for threatening the poor bastard.
The police took him in for a 72 hour psych-eval and while I am sure they will find him to be dangerous, they will have little choice but to stuff him full of psych drugs, turn him into a temporarily docile specimen, and then release him into the wild once again to potentially hurt himself or another innocent person.
The state of care for the mentally ill in San Francisco is clearly in grave disrepair. The number of people living in squalor and without any way to protect them, or the public from them, is egregious. I am sure someone can quote me numbers that suggest they receive the best possible care and other impractical nonsense. The fact is this, I am not a small man, and am rather imposing in my demeanor and vocal delivery. If someone is willing to take me on in broad daylight, imagine what they might do to someone less capable of fighting back.
Thank God these days are only 1 in 100.