Thursday, September 22, 2011

Kitty At My Foot...




...and I want to touch it, to quote the Presidents Of The United States of America.  It's from a silly song simply titled "Kitty". Funny shit if you get the absurdity of it all.

This happy graffiti kitty was just across the street on the beginning of Haight Street from my fabulous barber dude whose nimble clippers always gets the job done right. This stenciled rendering is a fine representation of simple, fun, playful art on the sidewalk. It's not Banksy, but I think it has a similar kindred spirit. I find this kind of street art much more interesting and compelling than the usual giant squiggle autographs seen on the sides of warehouses. All that crap is so ego centric and comes across as a simple display of bragging rights that the artist can make a bigger giant and more unintelligible squiggle of their name than their competitors vying for the same warehouse wall space.  I prefer the artistic statements of a Banksy or Shepard Fairey over any of that other stuff.  Spray paint on rebel kiddies and perhaps one day a real picture will pop into your heads.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Real San Francisco Summer..

Finally, now that the rest of the country is about to hit the Fall Equinox this Friday, San Francisco is now finally hitting summer time. There's been no fog up here on Twin Peaks all week, and the temperature's been warm enough to leave the hoodie at home and one can dare to wear shorts without sprouting goosebumps all over.  Another wonderful "plus" to this weather is that I can actually see the "million dollar view" off of my balcony. The city shimmers at night, and a I can see the planes lining up for landings across the bay in Oakland.

Of course, it won't last long and we'll be right on track for rainy season. I'll do my best to absorb as much vitamin D on the balcony and watch this beautiful city show its true colors.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year....

Here's to new adventures in 2011.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Backpack Bash

I wish this little story of a common daily struggle was really about the best party you could ever imagine, as you might have gleaned from its somewhat ambiguous title. Hey kids, stuff your backpack full of food and booze and come to a secret location and party! 

Perhaps you were pondering a story about a blowout bash of epic proportions filled with interesting people, a sumptuous feast of exotic delights and a continuous flow of sublime cocktails containing ingredients you’ve never heard of, all topped off with a unique location that immediately falls into the “once in a lifetime” category where you have to pinch yourself just to make sure you’re not dreaming. But I’m sorry to inform you, it’s not. Instead, it’s about the modern day sufferings of one of many minor indignities in life that, like a whack a mole game, keep popping up no matter how hard you smack them down. While seemingly mankind supposedly continues to evolve, it’s clear to me some people don’t and never will.

Two to three days a week I leave my car at home and take San Francisco’s famed “Muni” Public Transit system to work, in a vain attempt to pretend to reduce my carbon footprint, or whatever I’m supposed to do to be a good “green” citizen. It’s really quite famous for it’s “Muni meltdown” that occurred in the late nineties, where train service became so bad and unreliable that it was said you could walk between some stops faster than the trains would travel during rush hour. It happened as a result of a perfect storm of an aging streetcar fleet and rapidly increased demand during the height of another infamous period in the city known as the “Dot Bomb.” I’ve managed to survive both catastrophic episodes with my sanity in check and cementing my San Francisco existence within the cities storied history. Pinch me so I know I’m not dreaming, or on second thought, don’t.

Despite Muni’s well publicized dark days, it’s not all that bad once you’ve ridden it a number of times. Repeated use quickly familiarizes one’s self with the various quirks and issues the system presents its loyal riders on a daily basis. Mechanical hiccups, stinky chatty homeless people, giddy graffiti producing school kids, and random, inexplicable delays become less of a major annoyance, and experienced patrons learn cope with a good book or a cool puzzle or game on their smart phone. My current favorite is a puzzle that challenges you try to come up with as many word combinations out of a single string of letters in a couple of minutes. It can be almost magical they way it engages me and quickly passes the time during such occurrences.

A weary traveler’s phone can also serve as a great information tool when one can access a great little Muni web site that is designed to estimate the arrival of your next bus or train by punching in the street location of the stop you’re waiting at, on the route you’re taking and what direction you’re traveling. Nine times out of ten it seems to be reasonably accurate, and takes most of guesswork out of wondering when the next damn bus or train is going to show up.  As an aside, a well utilized survival tactic I’ve learned is that it doesn’t hurt to know of a few good bars in the neighborhoods your route takes you through in case you need to hunker down for an adult beverage or two when the next meltdown occurs.

For those of you who have not been initiated in this or a similar commute experience, rush hour on any public transit system can be quite the test in patience and civility.  There is usually the “chaos” time window of anywhere between 7:30 am and 9:00 am where most transit riders try to get to work, despite the risk of larger crowds and associated longer waits to get on a train or bus. Through my own personal experience the time frame threshold of when traveling on Muni is noticeably more crowded and difficult can be in as little as fifteen minutes before the “chaos” time window begins, and suddenly gets better fifteen minutes afterwards. A perfect example of urban synchronization at its finest.

On the days I’m more lethargic, lazy and just can’t get the hell out of bed, I usually miss avoiding the “chaos” time window and fall prey to the unwashed masses. This is when taking public transit truly challenges one to struggle to feel like a civilized human being while being pushed, shoved and stepped on by others who really don’t have any regard for their fellow commuters. Enter the backpack-wearer.

The domestic urban animal a.k.a “the city dweller” must adapt to their surroundings by being somewhat prepared and organized in order to successful exist among the other thousands, and in a few cases, millions of urban dwellers also trying to live their lives in crowded and congested conditions. The workdays can be long, and meeting the hectic obligations of both a career and having a life outside of work requires that some must travel with not only stuff for work, but stuff for after work related activities as well. For some it would be books associated with a night class or two, others it would be gym clothes or perhaps the makings of a really memorable party at an undisclosed location. Whatever those contents might be, the common backpack seems to be the vessel of choice to carry any given amount of stuff needed for the day. Let the suffering and ignorant displays of inconsiderate behavior begin. 

Let’s face it; people who wear large backpacks suck. Period. While I applaud their organization skills of being prepared for their busy little days by carrying everything they own on their person but the kitchen sink, the rest of us unfortunately suffer from the fact that most insist on wearing them when on overcrowded buses and trains. Some are so large and stuffed with crap that they take up space for two people and prevent others from being able to get on and off at will.

When I encounter these clueless, self-centered schlubs, I can’t help but envision some disgruntled thirteen year old who’s running away from home. Their parents just don’t understand them any more and they need to find others like them that they can identify with in a secret enclave of misunderstood kids deep in the woods of Oregon or hanging out with burned out hippies and surfers at Venice Beach or the still popular Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco.

Other backpack monsters appear to me to be super-nerd overachievers with zero social graces, and simply exist with all the shit they need to do anything at anytime, buried under their iPods listening to audio versions of Star Trek books written by William Shatner and narrated by James Earl Jones.  If it were not for my semi-vivid imagination allowing me to see some level of absurdity in their existence and rudeness, I’d probably try to throw them under a bus or train with unbounded glee witnessing a standing ovation from all the other riders faced with the same plight.

Being the highly adaptable creature that I am, I’ve learned to have some fun with them by employing several offensive tactics that let them know my feelings towards their lack of consideration for their fellow commuters.  The first one is the straightforward, causal but stern bump when getting on or off a train or bus, even then they’re not crowded. It’s enough to say “nice backpack, but get the fuck out of my way, dork”.

Other times the stern bump is not enough, and when I’m feeling more annoyed and feisty, I perform a more complex, drawn out brush and drag move where I pretend there is just no space between their backpack and other patron standing behind them, (and usually there really isn’t any room….), and I just slowly walk right into them, accompanied with an insincere “excuse me”. More often than not the “excuse me” is not heard over the din of James Earl Jones and they don’t make any attempt to move out of the way, so I simply proceed to almost push them down. Usually they are forced to turn sideways to move out of the way while shooting me even more upset and annoyed glares than the ones who just receive the casual bump. Sunglasses protect me from having to make eye contact and I’ll just stare straight ahead, waiting for any comment they might have. To this date, without fail, not a single backpack wearing dweeb has said anything to me after the push and drag. I attribute the lack of verbal responses due to the fact they must realize it just comes with the territory of being a complete ass by not removing them when taking the public transit system and showing a shred of decency towards others. Perhaps this unspoken knowledge they possess comes  in the form of a tag that’s attached to all backpacks which outlines a basic code of conduct to follow when wearing one and what to expect when they don’t. At the bottom of the tag is a 
stern warning not to remove it under penalty of law.

Even after years of taking Muni, this situation never seems to change, regardless of shifts in the social climate, backpack and bag trends, designs and technologies; not that any of those factors would really make a difference in the first place, but one can be hopeful at times, right?  The encounter is almost always the same and as time goes by, it does seem to get a bit harder each time not to get all ghetto on the offender and giving them a high decibel piece of my mind. However, the trusty tools of the casual bump and the push and drag are always 
at the ready, and I always faithfully resort to those instead of verbal confrontation.

In the end I’m glad I don’t choose the route to go overboard with confrontation, and attribute that ever growing restraint to my ever expanding coping skills and the realization that it just won’t change the world and would cause needless stress in my life which I just don’t need. Besides, it’s simply more fun share with all of you and write about it instead.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Pipe Cleaner Pony - A Training Class Ice-Breaker

The wind was rushing across my face almost lifting the cowboy hat up off my head as as I guided my loyal steed up the mountain pass. The mission: to head off a group of cattle rustlers that had hit both my ranch and the neighbors' across the way. Enough was enough, and it was time to take the law into our own hands. With my posse in tow, an inner calm and confidence started to arise knowing justice will come to these prairie hardened, dusty remnants of law abiding men who once made an honest living as I currently fight for, each and every single day of my life. With the guiding touch of my spur, my pipe cleaner pony responded with a snort, a bray and a quickening of his pace so we could catch up with the bad guys as soon as possible. All of a sudden, the teacher's words instructing the late-comers of the task at hand brought my morning daydream to a faded end. 

Placed at each group of desks were a pile of index cards and a random assortment of arts and crafts items to be used to construct our little morning assignment. We had to create name cards that were free standing and had to tell everyone in the class something about ourselves. A few clever ones emerged quickly as I scanned around the room, but then a growing sense of frustration emerged and many couldn't quite get a firm grasp on what to create and how to do it in the shortest amount of time possible. A chorus of eyes rolled as many just didn't care at all about being cutesy or clever and just wanted to get on with it all. 

Just in case that first photo doesn't really showcase the meticulous artistry displayed in this pile of pipe cleaners, here's another shot for those skeptics in the crowd:



Boom!  Sheer brilliance on half a cup of coffee on a Wednesday morning in downtown San Francisco on the 12th floor in a homogeneous beige colored class room. Not to sound too cocky, but I'm sure Alexander Calder wished he had constructed such a beast at the height of his wire circus period, before he had that little "mobile" phase.  I didn't name the poor beast 'cause I just didn't think he'd be around long enough to really bond with. Such a fleeting moment of art imitating life.   

After we completed our little "sculptures", we were then asked to stand up, and hand it to someone else in the room and wait for them to guess the personal quality the card was supposed to illustrate. Needless to say this broke the supposed "ice" in the room, and made for many awkward exchanges as most people couldn't guess what each others card was supposed to day about them. A few guessed mined correctly, but I certainly got a few strange looks in the process, like "that's supposed to be a horse??". Thank god I'll never see these people again.... I hope.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Those Cunning Credit Card Company Linguists

I don't know if any of you have noticed, but doesn't it seem like credit card offers have gotten somewhat out of hand these days? Aside from the sheer numbers of offers that can flood one's mailbox, it's the creative marketing-speak used to try and persuade an individual to actually apply, that has recently caught my eye.  With your average, run of the mill offers that promise all sorts of bonuses and perks, There seems to be few that effectively enter the rarified illusionary realm of perceived exclusivity. They seem to beg with the false promises like…"If you get this card, you'll be able to walk on water to get to the store to buy your stuff with a two thumbs up from the man upstairs." Then you can ask the almighty man, "does this make me look fat?" 

Normally all my offer letters are submitted to the god of shredding, which does a great job of creating nice fluffy bedding fodder for small critters, like a hamster, for example. Of course, this is all hypothetical since I don't personally own one of these fuzzy things. Really, I don't. But, if I did, he'd be in hog-hamster heaven, inside his cage outfitted with the latest and greatest hamster wheel technology doing what hamsters do best, eating and pooping...oh and biting their owners too. Ouch! You little fuckers.  Appropriately enough, all this Hamster activity would be happening on a soft fluffy bed of shredded credit card offers. That's all those stubborn bits of junk mail are really good for, to bring luxurious comfort for your small rodent-pet when has to go number two. 

Last week, a trickle of offers arrived from the usual suspects, and as I routinely do, I open them up, remove the actual offer letters and shred them. I then take the empty envelopes and toss them into the recycling bin like the good little eco-conscious San Franciscan that I am.   As I completed sorting and perusing all my mail, I grabbed the shred pile and proceeded to fire up the god of shredding when the letter on top worked it's magic and actually caught my eye. So Here we go… wait for it…. wait for it....

At the top of this particularly longish looking offer letter I clutched in my hand, a phrase leapt from the page which immediately put a giant, absurdist humor loving smile upon my face. There it was, the phrase that I couldn't believe I was reading:

"You're Pre-Approved to Apply". 

The words hit me like a thousand Tsunamis, only I am still dry.  I paused and re-read those words several more times, just so they'd sink in through my euphoric fog of giddy, child-like wonderment, like on Christmas day staring at a tree surrounded by presents, singing their siren song.

As my new reality shook me like a bartender making a dry martini, my mind immediately flooded with questions like, "I wonder what their pre-approval process is based on?  Is it more of a brute force, number crunching deal using their secret, special super-fabulous credit card pre-approval supercomputer running Windows Vista, or is more like an Alien anal probe approach?  How *do* they do it? I couldn't at that exact moment recall being recently visited by Aliens, so I had to assume it was the supercomputer approach. All I can say is it must be one expensive computer to pick the likes of me. And to my bottomless surprise, after all that number crunching, I still made it through the pre-approval gauntlet.  But, the icing on this "pre-approval" cake…next to my name, is my own, special pre-approval code that's over twelve digits long! Whoa, that's a big, important number for such a big important guy like me. I don't know what to say as I briefly experience a state of flabbergastedness. Pinch my nipples, please?

As I come to, I start to wonder about all the others,  the unwashed masses who are not lucky enough to be pre-approved. What will become of them? Will they live to see a new day dawning? Will they be allowed to apply for the same card even though they're not pre-approved? Will the bank's security team intercept them as they approach the bank with completed form in hand, walking up the the perpetually moving revolving door to their main branch lobby? I pray for them, and hope they can still get decent credit while being forced to live in their non-approved status. So many unknowns in a cruel, cruel world.


So I give a big shout out to those pompous and manipulative wordsmiths hunkered down in the deep dark depths of the underground offices of the credit card pre-approval, approval departments. Well done you English major refugees.  You almost got me. But, I must readily admit, I did dodge this bullet without too much difficulty. Your sensibilities are very entertaining, and I pity those who can't see clearly though the bullishit message laced with arrogance and fake illusion of a better life with your little credit card. Oh, and I shouldn't forget to mention that the percentage rate listed on the back of that letter truly sucks. I already have a card that is 4 points less than what you're offering. Now you're pre-approved to fuck off.



Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Presenting: The Evolution of Stupidity In Modern Man - Part One

Sometimes it happens as a guerilla assualt. Sometimes you can quietly observe from a safe distance. In either case you're caught off guard and completely unprepared for what is about to transpire. While you're in no danger, it just doesn't feel right, yet you are a front row witness.

The Bay Area has been in the midst of a series of powerful storms belting the coast for a long over due bought of rain. The credit goes to both God, for crying a lot, (a total wuss sometimes), and also to our local army of weathermen and weather-chicks warning us on the airwaves of the impending doom. Here comes a bunch 'o rain with a lot of wind and stuff. Mmmmm.... computer weather modeling.

So, I'm fresh off of Muni early this morning making my way in a comfortable stride clutching a fresh umbrella when I turn a corner on Mission near Third, and come across a sight I wasn't expecting to see in the morning rain. I didn't break my stride to observe, but the corners of my eye were burning with disbelief as I passed.

I saw a man, walking his dog in the pouring rain wearing a pair of flip flops.  What the Fuck?  I know, I said the exact same thing to myself. Bad parents? Lazy care free attitude? Stupid? Can't feel water? Didn't want to ruin his pair of Prada Pumps? I don't know either, but many of those explanations could very well apply. I'm convinced it's all the above. In any case, I guess this guy doesn't really think too much about getting dressed in the morning when it's pouring rain out. Fido needed to take a dump, I'm sure that's what was on his mind. Not wearing shoes was the path of least resistance, I'm guessing, to get the little critter walked before he had to clean up after it in his hi-rise overpriced, underwater condo.

"Hmmm... should I wear shoes since it's wet outside, or should I go with the flip flops?  They make me feel like I'm still on vacation in Maui.  I'll go with the flip flops". I'm in denial, and that's totally cool with me.

Wow dude. Really?

Stupid Man.

Poor, Poor dog.  Who knows what you'll have to endure next.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Catching Fish From a Deep Gray Ocean

Fish were never meant to exist out of water. Period. A non-debate at the very least. From learning all about them in elementary school, to the fishing shows on TV, we know that once on land, that's it. The specter of the Gorton's Fisherman looms large as they gasp for water. A dying breath that does not seek air.
 

Landing one is certainly the big trick for most of the amateur fishermen among us, so that's why we're given the luxury and saving grace of the Trader Joe's frozen food aisle where numerous fish choices abound. I, myself, tend to enjoy the various cuts of wild Salmon, or Mahi-Mahi, but I digress. So let's quickly revisit one of those fishing shows; the ones I admit I've never actually watched but my gut tells me what they're all like, and we see prime examples of the fish at it's best. Wild, elusive, and somewhat unpredictable. Programmed by Mother Nature.  Oh, and hungry too.
 

Despite the fact that many avid fisherman have those high-tech radar thingies to help them locate where the little bastards are, it's never a guarantee that any fish will actually be caught. It's funny, 'cause one would think after all the high tech gear, science, time and money that goes behind any serious fisherman's endeavors, that they'd just say "fuck it" and join us at Trader Joe's. I would. I get exhausted just thinking about all that work for a simple end result. I think the path of least resistance is in order here, for maximum enjoyment of a nice fish dinner. Yum.
 

So there they are, in their boats with radar, poles, nets, beer and such, waiting and hoping the fish will do their bidding and just take the freaking' bait. Since the radar shows them where the fish are, they technically aren't hiding anymore, so it simply becomes a matter of coaxing, teasing and waiting. Simple enough, it would seem, and perish the thought if they run out of beer. It's a deep dark abyss out there that highlights the fact that the outcome of any fishing expedition is not a foregone conclusion. I'm pretty sure that can be a humbling fact that many fisherman to take into account. And then they run out of beer. Doh!
 

My recent epiphany is that I see the plight of the common fisherman as an appropriate analogy for the big black hole I created in 2009, with my Blog, "The Twin Peaks Reader". I hate to admit it, but the year flew by with nary a peep out of me. I'm sure a couple of readers noticed. I think… One major factor was the start of an important new job that pretty much sucked most of the creative bandwidth out of me, and rightfully so since my job is a top priority. 
 

I've found that coming up with those ideas is so much like fishing. Ideas are fish swimming freely among the gray matter between my ears. I eschew the radar 'cause I know where they are, so finding them is not the problem when it comes to writing them down. But, I still face the exact same challenges the fisherman faces. Despite all my best intentions and attempts, it's just nearly impossible to get those ideas to take the bait, bite, and allow me the opportunity to set the hook, and with good luck, reel them in. If I get that far, then my final challenge is to try my hardest to prevent them from slipping through my hands and wriggling over the side of the boat, back into the gray matter ocean.
 

It was so apparent that my authorial rod and reel I had last year where grossly insufficient. You could say all I was equipped with was a Popeils Pocket Fisherman when a needed a full, ocean going fishing rig.  But thankful a year has passed and there is more balance to my life which opens up the trap door allowing me to once again peer below into the ocean of my mind.
 

For the record, if you've ever visited the cobweb infested pages of the Twin Peaks Reader,  I have successfully landed a few over the past few years. They may not be the biggest or tastiest fish that were swimming about, but fish never the less. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it must be a ….. fish, idea, page in Mr. Bloggy Woggy.  Ahem.
 

So here's to the new and improved tools of the trade, a shiny new rod and reel with a nice heavy line for 2010 and beyond. I know where to cast, let's just hope something happens. I hope there are some hungry folks out there. I know I am. 




Sunday, January 3, 2010

Wiper

For those of us who choose the big city "lifestyle", (yes, that one *is* a choice), sometimes the simple acts performed by individuals can be profound statements of commitment that help make both the city and its environment a little bit better for all. Trust me on this one people.

(Stepping off my neophyte eco-soapbox) I try to do my part by taking San Francisco's lovely Public Transportation system, a.k.a. "Muni" several days a week to work which keeps my car off the road, preventing it from spewing forth that nasty carbon stuff we've been hearing a lot about lately. Additionally, it also allows me to save a few bucks on parking. Simple enough. Not spew carbon, save some dough. Class dismissed.


Much to my dismay, my public transportation sufferings and newly acquired "eco-karma" have not been affective in fending off the dreaded armies of GreenPeace and other "save-the-planet" street solicitors from flagging me down in an annoyingly well crafted message of "you're not doing enough to save our earth" guilt trip, trying to deprive me of the money I just saved by not driving. Can't they see the "I didn't drive a freaking' car to work, asshole" look on my face as I walk by them in a stoic attempt to evade their in your face persistence to get you to stop, hear their little lecture, and give them cash on the spot because you've been moved to tears. They're well trained in accepting any excuse you may possess and pounce on any valid point you make with the "…but you could do more" stock answer that always circles the conversation back to  giving them money to make you feel better about yourself. I'm so over it. I do good things they seem to want to cast aside 'cause I'm not giving them money. I'm so over it.  But I digress. I'm sure some of you will defend them, and rightly so. Just be sure to give them your hard earned money in this down economy and get back to me on how that went. Now back to our regularly scheduled story at hand.  


When I embark on my morning commute down the Temple of Fog on those non-carbon spewing days, it luckily begins at the beginning of the Muni Bus Route I flirt death with. As a result, the bus is always empty upon arrival and the few of us early morning risers get first crack at actual seats. It's a simply luxury I cherish when I witness the fate of all the other commuters who board the bus a half dozen stops down along the route. Those poor souls have the wonderful privilege of having to try and stand, holding on for their dear lives with a white knuckled death grip, all the while the seemingly insane driver careens down the hill in a vain attempt to keep a somewhat on-time schedule. For all of us regulars, we're well aware of the fact that while the effort is appreciated, it is an exercise in futility. Never the less the driver tries to appease the clock, taking our lives into their hands. 


When the bus finally appears and stops a seemingly half-block from where we're actually standing, well within the marked bus stop zone of course, it's captive audience breathes a collective sigh of relief that it has actually has shown up on time one more time. In the absence of an actual "mooing" soundtrack to this moment, we board this bio-diesel cattle car shuffling on in single file choosing our usual favorite seats. Mine is usually in the first row of the upper level, mid-way towards the back. It's a great vantage point to quickly exit from the side door when the bus is packed and makes it easy to observe all the goings on while we plummet down the hill.


On most mornings, after the early arrivals have grabbed their usual seats, more often than not a final passenger will briskly climb aboard at the very last minute clutching a somewhat discreet wad of paper towels. After a few repeated sightings and witnessed his little ritual, I've finally dubbed him, "The Wiper".


The Wiper looks to be in his early thirties, somewhat fashionably dressed and always sporting contemporary black rimmed glasses. His personal attention to fashion detail is fairly common in San Francisco, but in this particular case it just makes him look very uptight, fussy, and overall not well adjusted to the common realities of taking public transportation in a big city. He looks semi-fabulous at best. If he were truly fabulous, he wouldn't be taking the bus.  Once he's made his brisk entrance, he walks to the mid-way point of the bus and quickly scans around to find a good seat candidate, carefully scrutinizing each one for a base level of cleanliness. However, regardless of how clean his choice actually is, enter the wad of paper towels. That little bundle of bleached paper joy comes to his rescue. Before he sits, he wipes down the entire seat in what appears to be loathsome contempt for the dirty, crappy bus he's forced to take to work.  However, let the truth be told, is far, far cleaner than you would imagine based on this guy's behaviors. 
 


The wiping process he employs is very thorough, and seems to last minutes on end. In actuality, it lasts about thirty seconds to a minute at the most. When observing this act, however, I can't help but see it in slow motion, making it seem like an eternity that yields no significant benefit, based on the overall effort.  The Wiper usually wears a stern look of intent on his face while wiping, making sure he's covered ever inch of the seat that will come in contact with his precious body. This intensity usually produces soft shuffling and brushing sounds that can sometimes be heard above the din of the rear heater fan. To me, that's an impressive feat since the fan is really loud and can sometimes drown out regular conversations.  I never get a good look of the wad of paper towels after he's done, but I swear it sometimes contains some of the red paint from the seat.

Once he's satisfied that there's no Swine Flu or Bubonic Plague residue lingering on it,  he'll delicately pivot on one foot, positioning his precious tushy in proper alignment with the seat and slowly ease himself down with the care of a mother hen taking inventory of her eggs.  Sometimes as he begins this seating process, he'll look from side to side behind him as if he's not sure it's completely clean, despite his best efforts, and give the seat a last once-over before finally sitting down. The whole scene sort of reminds me a small dog or cat that will circle a place on a couch or pet bed dozens of times trying to find the perfect spot while "nesting", not trusting their initial choice and repeating over and over again until it just feels right. Stupid critters. If they were smart, they'd get the Wiper to cleanse their nesting spot before going to sleep. Duh. 


After finally completing the settling in and actually sitting down process, he usually produces a trendy fashion magazine or a vintage Tin Tin comic reprint of some sort and he'll sit staring straight ahead with an airy nonchalance while reading. My logical assumption is that he thinks his fastidious ritual of seat wiping is done by all patrons of Mr. Bus, and that it's a completely normal behavior and there's no way in hell he'd ever be singled out as an uptight anal-retentive precious little fashionista. I can't help but find the whole display very entertaining, especially when the seat looks perfectly clean with no visible signs of moisture, dirt or other "foreign objects" that would put his precious wardrobe in danger, yet he never fails to wipe never the less. It seems to simply be an auto-response to his environment.


Over time and after repeated viewings of his morning Muni ritual, I can't help but wonder the possibilities of what potentially happened in his past that now requires him to perform this amusing little act in public.  Perhaps many years ago, when he first started taking Muni he had some horrible, encounter with seat schmutz that mentally scarred him for life. Oh the horror that I can imagine. Maybe he accidentally sat down in fresh bum vomit not noticing it in his seat of choice while yanking away on his iPhone. After pondering that theory, however, it seems to me to be implausible because he'd smell the festering pool of barf long before accidentally sitting in it. We all know the putrid smell of bum vomit hits you in the face like a few rolls of quarter swung at your face in a tube sock. My numerous other theories continue in great detail, but I won't bore you with them here. All I can figure it out it must have been really, really bad to leave such a profound mental scar.


When I ever encounter a seat that looks like I shouldn't sit in it, I simply move on to the next one and life goes on. I don't have the time or energy to carry around a heavy wad of paper towels trying to make the bus a better place to ride.  I'm sure some of you champion his act of cleaning the seat thus bringing it back into circulation for the crowded trip down the hill benefiting the rest of the passengers, but I guess you must be a fellow brethren of the fellowship of the sacred wad of paper towels taking on the dirty burdens of the world. I hope you all sleep at night knowing that using up all those extra paper towels is causing rapid accelerated deforestation much sooner than anyone ever expected. Happy?

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

I welcome the exit of 2009 for greener pastures to be found in 2010. I hope I find them....