“Bread is for the birds!” screeched the hot pink lips two feet to my left. The old woman is dressed peculiarly in a red tattered dress, knee high striped socks, and a white hoodie soiled from the streets. The compassionate father and his son retreat quickly with their bag of leftover ACME sourdough bread in hand – a failed lesson for the youth in the joy of sharing. Having resided in San Francisco for over seven years, I am accustomed to the colorful characters that roam the city. I ponder the notion that perhaps my reality has shifted from what outsiders would deem normal.
I fidget trying my best to get comfortable in the stiff wooden chair. I want to take off my fitted coat but the gray concrete floor and lofty ceilings offer no comfort from the breeze of the bay. I do not come to the San Francisco Ferry Building because it is cozy; I come here for the vistas, to people watch and for the Farmer’s Market on the weekends.
Facing East, I gaze out the wall of windows before me. The morning fog has burned off the bay in record time, revealing a long line of rippled white clouds crimped upon the baby blue sky. Cars seemingly the size of hot wheels, inch slowly across the vast steel connector to “the city”. A booming ferryboat fights the choppy waters, promptly delivering a workforce brigade reporting to duty for another long week. A seagull stands vigilant as an army of suits disembarks the vessel. A stream of productivity marching swiftly, equipped with smart phones, briefcases, and venti Starbucks non-fat triple shot lattes. As for me, I am in denial, at least for another five minutes.
The whistle of a frother sounds behind me. The aroma of fresh baked pastries flows out the door of Peet’s Coffee with the line of patrons eager to get their fix. I sip my tea that is still too hot to drink, curiously scanning the room. Who are these characters that leisurely drink coffee while reading the New York Times from top to bottom? What do they do for work? I spy a writer; she is staring thoughtfully at her pad of paper, pen in her left hand, ready to work once the block passes.
I begin to feel that someone is watching me. I catch the penetrating stare of the deep brown eyes two tables over. He realizes he is caught and quickly looks down at the notepad he is feverishly scribbling upon. His skin is as dark as the charcoal in his right hand. I suspect he is drawing me as he continues to conspicuously peer over his notepad and then back down again. We both know the other knows, but it is okay. I am curious how I am perceived by this stranger? As if he can read my mind, he erases my chance of knowing.
With a click, the door behind me swings opens sending a chilly reminder that business has begun. I sigh realizing my reality. I collect my things and join the march toward Corporate America.
Twenty-two working days left and counting …