Friday, April 24, 2009

I'm Usually Polite to the Workingman

At 4 am, drunk and tired, I left and walked to 16th Street to catch the 22 Fillmore home. It was pouring rain and the 2 blocks to the bus stop left me drenched. I waited for about 5 minutes and then, knowing that the bus only ran once an hour at this time of night, walked toward home, following the path of the bus line.

At 16th and Julian, I paused, leaned against a lamppost and looked across the street at Poncho Villa, my favorite tacqueria in the Mission. On countless occasions, while getting my regular super veggie burrito, I witnessed burritos being thrown away due to problems with the order. While standing there, this visual popped in my head. I was hungry, drunk hungry. And I wanted a burrito. Despite being long closed, I knew (for some odd reason) that their dumpster was in the alley next to Esta Noche, a Latino drag bar. And, in my mind, I knew the dumpster was full of super burritos wrapped in tinfoil.

The streets were empty except for junkies looking to score at 16th and Mission. Before entering the alley, my streets smarts kicked in. I stopped, peered in the shadows and moved forward. It was still raining and the only light was from the street lamp across the street.

The dumpster was enclosed by a 10 foot chain-link fence. It was green with a black plastic lid and was not locked. I knew burritos were in there, I just knew it! I grabbed the fence and pulled myself up but my sneakers slipped on the wet chain. I tried again and again, my hunger and drink driving this futile act. I eventually gave up and continued walking the bus line, hungry.

At Church and Market I made a decision to stop and wait for the bus, no matter how long it took. The rain had stopped and continuing on meant risking going through the Fillmore and Western Addition at 4 am on the biggest drinking holiday of the year. I sat on a bench on the edge of the Safeway parking lot and waited.

Across the street a woman was spray-painting a horse on a boarded-up business. I recognized the style of the horse immediately. They had been popping up all over town and were signed Reminisce. Without thinking, I got up and walked over to where she was. I wasn’t sure what I was going to say - maybe something intelligent like, “Cool, cool. I like your stuff.” Sober, I’m the most eloquent guy, so this is not far from the truth. Halfway across the street, I noticed 2 guys flanking her, walking toward me. I quickly turned and sat down. I was in no mood for conflict.

The bus came and I took a seat behind the back door. Looking out the window, the streets were empty except for fellow drunks going into Safeway for frozen pizza and chips. Reminisce was long gone and the bus wasn’t moving. As we sat there, I fiddled with the zipper on my jacket, ran my fingers through my damp hair – anything to occupy time. I’m thinking, “Dude, what the fuck? What are you waiting for?” IT was a legitimate question. IT was now 4:30 and I seriously doubt somebody was running down the street trying to catch the 4:30 am bus at Church and Market. This is MUNI, for Christ’s sake. They’re never on time!! What is he waiting for? Finally, I couldn’t take any more. I reached up and rang the bell 3 quick times and cried, “Come on,” sustaining the word “on” for a few seconds. This type of behavior was unusual for me, as I was usually polite, especially to the workingman. I watched his reaction in the rearview mirror. Slowly, the back of head tilted, looking into the mirror. Our eyes met and he slowly shook his head side-to-side in disgust. We both went back to doing nothing.