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People Watching In San Francisco

So I was in The City the other day for a job interview. I have decided that while jobs in The City are preferable since they pay more, it also costs more to get there to interview for a job you may or may not get. Let’s see:

Bridge Toll – $5
Ferry Toll (round trip) – $11.20

So that is a bare minimum of $16.20 just to get there. What about BART? What about it? Let’s see, $7.80 round trip plus $1 for parking for a grand total of $8.80. A savings of $7.40. $37 cheaper per week and $148 cheaper per month. Though if you are making decent money, it’s worth it to have a nice 35 minute ferry ride in comfort, walk 20 minutes to work and drink a beer on the way home as opposed to being shoved into a smelly car, standing the whole way next to people with questionable hygiene.

But that wasn’t it. It was the parking. There wasn’t any. You see, when you need to go into The City mid-day, the BART lots are full and street parking is restricted to two hours. So it’s the ferry. But the ferry lot was full so I park across the street in the “overflow lot” which may or may not have been parking for Togo’s but I took my chances.

Once there, I was dazzled by the wonder that is the Ferry Building and tried to keep myself from buying everything in sight with my near non-existent money. As I started walking down Market towards Montgomery I played “Who Is This?” with the passers-by. I try to imagine based on clothes and look who these people are. What do they do? Are they tourists? Are they bankers? Are they Jason Bourne and his latest exotic but kick-ass female companion on the run from international terrorists?

There were a great many beautiful, willowy Asian women, looking ageless and chic in their designer clothes and perfect matching bags. I felt old and dumpy and mortal by comparison. I found myself trying to look for flaws just to convince myself these lovely creatures were real. Finally found one. On the bottom of one perfect aubergine shoe was a price sticker. Ah HA! I feel better about myself and my old, but Italian, shoes.

There were harried businessmen, some sans jackets, talking on cell phones, yelling into cell phones, playing with cell phones. Hell, you’d think the cell phone was the same as a remote control in front of the television. There were moms herding children, groups of tourists chatting excitedly in languages I did not recognize. I pretended they were from Outer Moldavia, a small country in Europe which sits against the Carpathian Mountains next to Transylvania. Then again, they might have been from Sweden.

I saw a tiny cubbyhole of a sushi roll place that had a line out the door and down the block. The receptionist at the place I was interviewing told me the sushi place just opened a few weeks ago. She said it’s okay but not amazing. I think because it is wee and new and wee all the hipsters are flocking there for the sheer smugness of it.

On my walk back to the Ferry Building I saw a woman, eating a burrito and talking to herself. Nowadays you have to look to make sure she isn’t talking into a Bluetooth but her conversation was a bit into the “crazy, homeless lady or soon to be homeless lady” category. She was saying “Now you hush up because I’z da one that talks to the voices in my heads and not you and you shuts up you voices!” Wow, she told them!

Back at the Ferry Building, I found myself drawn to some of the best chocolate in the world, Recchiuti. To quote Yelper Irene C “This place makes Godiva look like it’s peddling poo… as in, obscenely expensive strawberries covered in poo.” Crude but true. This place is better than Vosges and they are my favs for gourmet chocolate. Tiny, wee bites of heaven these chocolate bits are. Expensive Heaven. It’s the Heaven where near perfect people who take care of lepers go, that Heaven. Heaven also comes with a price. A large price. Yeah, plan on paying about .80 – $1.00 for a piece of chocolate that can range from the size of a nickel to the size of a silver dollar. Everything is by weight. They have such lovely flavors like Lavender Vanilla or Rose Ginger or Lemon Verbena or Bergamot Tea. I am drooling just thinking of them and the $2.85 I spent on 3 wee pieces.

So that makes my grand total of money spent on this job trip $19.05. Oh, I forgot the Starbucks Grande Non-fat, no water, chai that I HAD to have because I did a good job in my interview. Do I count it if it was on a card? I guess I will since the card I used I paid for and wasn’t a gift. Oh, and I bought 2 rolls from Acme Bakery for dinner and breakfast tomorrow as well as an almond croissant. Don’t judge me.

Grand total for my job interview in The City – $30.65. ouch. Hell, just the $16.20 was pricey. I should learn. Every time I think I did a great job, I buy something to celebrate the soon to be happening job with its rain of cash and prizes and I always get the zonk. Every time. Next time I swear, no extras. Just my $16.20 of travel expenses and I can put a power bar in my purse.

Now to make things even better, I got a follow-up email for a job I applied for two weeks ago that I really want! Hopefully the Gods will smile and soon I will be back on the ferry and able to afford the trip. Who knows? I might be riding with the “Young Geeks In Love” again. (check my back blogs) I love people watching in San Francisco.

The View, Manners & the Walking Clueless

So this morning I was groggy from the cat dancing on my head at 4am so I could pet her and in desperate need of a grande non-fat Chai Latte when I was subjected to a very noisy morning on the ferry.  Some people don’t understand there are “unwritten rules”.  They are agreed on by mind-meld consensus, small signs and just plain manners.  While they aren’t universal to every city or every situation, here are a few we have in the Bay Area.

* Stand on the right, pass on the left.  This refers to escalators.  ANY escalator or moving sidewalk.  I believe it started with BART.  There are some stations that are a few floors below street level and the common rule is if you want to stand and just let the moving stairs do the work – stand on the right side so the people who wish to pass you (either going up or down) can do so on the left side.  When you just stand in the middle and block the flow of pedestrians either trying to get to work or get down to a train, you will piss them off.

* No cell phone conversations on public transportation.  No one wants to hear you ramble on about your kid/dog/cat/sex life/big financial deal or next hooker appointment.  Now some of you may say, “How is that different from two people having a conversation?”  It just is.  I think when you have a conversation in person, you are more aware of your voice level and lets face it, you look like a pretentious ponce carrying on a loud conversation on your phone.

* Supervise your children.  You are the one who decided to have them so they are your responsibility.  This means keeping them from running around in enclosed places (like the ferry), keeping their voices down and teaching them to sit quietly.

All of this builds up to this morning.  The first problem person must have been new.  She either has not rode the ferry before or not during morning commute.  You see, the unwritten rule for the morning commute runs are Quiet.  People are still getting motivated, napping, listening to music, trying to get some work done, reading or otherwise waking up to their day.  Some have not had their daily requirement of coffee and have forgone the onboard ferry coffee for Peets or Starbucks once we dock.  So into that hushed, library-like atmosphere comes a Mom, her infant and 2 kids.

Now I realize that babies fuss.  This one really didn’t fuss too much but the kids….  Gods help me and give me strength with no morning Chai fortification.  They ran, they screamed, they talked in LOUD voices about ducks, the prison, do ducks sit on the ocean, container ships,Treasure Island (No you twit, that is Angel Island), castles on Treasure Island (ANGEL ISLAND) and other nonsensical things non-stop.  I was going to go downstairs since this woman would not shush her kids and then, the cell phone woman started.

She is talking loudly on her cell.  She is thinking, “Well why can’t I?  I’m not talking near as much as that family or making as much noise?”  So I guess 2 wrongs now make a right.  It was annoying but I wasn’t close enough to tell cell lady to hang up or tell clueless Mom to hush her kids.  I tried to sew and kept saying “It’s only 30 minutes.”

Later when I returned to the Ferry Building to pick up a sandwich for lunch, something brilliant occurred to me.  Here I was walking to the Ferry Building, sun shining down, cloudless blue sky above, Coit Tower behind me, the Bay Bridge to the side and the Bay in front of me.  The farmers market was outside the Ferry Building today.  There were people shopping, laughing, taking pictures, a trolley went by and I thought “Damn, I am privileged to be surrounded by all this.  What do I have to complain about?  A few asshats were inconsiderate for 30 minutes but I’m still standing here in the sun on this wonderful day and nothing can ruin that.”  A friend once said something very telling about what we see every day  in The City, “People pay serious coin for that view on vacation”.  He’s right.  I always think how beautiful it is when I see the Golden Gate Bridge from the ferry, especially on a clear day like this.  We are very lucky.  We should appreciate it more and not let the small things get you down.

Hey, I wonder if people in London or Rome or Paris appreciate the view they have?

Geek Grrl and A Rainy Thursday

This morning was overcast and damp from the pouring rain that blew through the Bay at 5am.  I was one of the first at the gate to await the ferry and guess who was right in front of me?  Geek Grrl from “Young Geeks in Love”.  Her counterpart was no where to be seen.  I tried to find the right words to approach her so I would not look like a stalker.  I seized on her backpack, decorated with Rockband patches as a conversation starter.

“You like Rock Band?”
“Yeah I love it!”
“Me too.”
“I put the patches in order of how good I am at them.”  (Vocals, Bass, Guitar, Drums)
“OMG, me too!  I sooo suck at drums!”

Thus began a cool conversation with the object of my blogging obsession of the past 2 weeks.  I found out the following in our geeky chat as we related stories of shipping deadlines, PC games and travel for each other:

* she is a game designer
* her husband is a game engineer
* her brother in law is a game designer
* her sister is a graphic artist for games

* she loves BioShock, Rock Band and tons of other cool games
* she is leaving for a weeks vacation next week to go back East and spend some time with her Mom
* her husband is on a business trip (no trouble in paradise – YAY!)
* she knows what it is like to “work hard, play hard”, be chained to a desk with a ship deadline and then get weeks of comp time to make up for it.  I told her about sliding flat food under the door to the engineers at AOL.
She was so nice, chipper and up beat.  I had my questions answered but now I just have .. MORE QUESTIONS.  How did she meet her husbnad, does she have pets, what kind, what is her view on pocket dogs, are they hiring where she works, can I clean out her cube for her – you know.. the usual stuff.  I hope  I see her tomorrow.  It would make for a good end to the week and maybe she will wear her cool flame shoes.

Don’t Be A Clueless Cell Phone Asshat – Another Ferry Story

There are a few rules on the Ferry.  Eating & drinking is not one of them especially since they sell snacks, booze and coffee, though no clam chowder to my continuing displeasure.  I continue to look back with longing to my ferry trip across Puget Sound in Washington and my cup of amazing clam chowder.  It isn’t fair.  We even have some of their ferries but not their chowder.

Anyway, one of the big posted rules is no talking on your cell phone.  More specifically the rule as stated on the ferry website lists “Please listen to music or media devices only with headphones or earphones.  Keep cell phone conversations to a minimum.”  Which means turn your phone on vibrate or pick it up on the first ring, keep your voice low and your conversation quick if you HAVE to pick it up at all.  If you need to talk, it is accepted courtesy to go outside on the tail with the bikers where no one cares what you do.

So yesterday I boarded the ferry Mariposa (as I do most mornings now), sit in the front of the 2nd level so I can see out and open my book.  This woman sits down diagonal to me. My right, her left, whatever.  She is jabbering on her phone about her spawn and her spawns SAT scores and trying to get into UC Palo Alto.  Do they even HAVE a UC school in Palo Alto?  Now I understand the “voluntary cell phone free zone” sign she is sitting under.  This is annoying as fuck.  However, we are still in dock.  I figure she will hang the phone up once we get under way.  You know where this is going… no, she doesn’t.

So now I have a dilema.  Do I be the one that says something?  I have no problem doing it but she is a little out of my eye shot since she is not in front of me and I don’t know if she will hear me over her blathering about “Why are they having little kids there?” and “I can’t believe he said that to her.”.  Part of me wanted to chime in with my fall back position of chatting about her conversation to her until she gets the point but I am too far away.

Fortunatly, the gentleman two seats over in her row says “Can you please take your conversation outside?’  She looks startled, then people chime in under their breath with “Please” or “We really don’t need to hear your conversation.”.  Now she looks abashed.  Some one with a better view of human nature would consider her to be honestly sorry.  I’m not one of those people.  Let me clarify, she is sorry.  She is very sorry she was caught and called on her behaviour.  I don’t believe she is sorry she did it in the first place.  Why?  Because by her own admission, she rides the ferry all the time and this was “the first time I did this.”  Well if you ride the ferry all the time, you know the rules.  You are a selfish git who didn’t care about other people, you just wanted to talk to your idiot friend and that was that.  You only look abashed because you were called on your rudeness.  Let’s hope today is better.