“It hurts me in my heart!” Says my tourist passenger. “Such rich country, and look at these people, it hurts me in my heart!” as we pass by a homeless encampment. I am not sure where he is from, but he is dressed spiffy for a tourist, in a white panama hat and a unwrinkled blazer.
“It hurts me in my heart” he says again, and hits his chest for emphasis.
“We have lots of poverty in my country, but this is America” he says, “it hurts me in my heart”. A man with a wild beard dressed in a garbage bag pauses in front of the car and experimentally hits the hood with a hard bread roll. Cars behind honk. We are near Twitter and the techies hurry by unfazed. The road clears and we move on.
“It hurts me in my heart!” He says a block later, and a drop of sweat materializes on his forehead. I hope I am not dealing with another impromptu ER ride, and I look to see what caused the distress this time.
A see a guy in white, knee-high tube socks pulled way up to his knees, orthopedic sandals, mustard yellow shorts with 80ies-grade pleats, and a tucked-in polo shirt waiting at a bus stop. He is pushing a few fashion boundaries, but we were in Tenderloin, not Milan.
“Those sock!” My passenger says. ”With sandals? And the shirt” He says. “it hurts me in my heart!”.
To my surprise I recognize the sock guy as a former neighbor of mine. I tell the passenger I know him.
“What’s wrong with him, is he an anarchist?” He asks.
The homeless man in soleless sneakers reading Everything Happens for a Reason.
The philosophy part is not immediately obvious, but after they over-analyse the dining options with gravity worthy of a larger issue—while it’s all just about this burger joint or that—I cannot hold back and ask what they are about. The difference between Umami Burger and Super Duper cannot be that impenetrable?
They turn out to be 2 philosophy doctoral students and their dad, philosophy professor. The mom is sitting next to me, blissfully ignoring the metaphysical back and forth, enjoying the scenery and merrily nodding to music.
“How about you”, I ask her, “are you also in philosophy?”
“God no”, she says, “unless you consider service industry philosophy-related field. I been a waitress for almost 40 years now. It’s what keeps me sane” she says, discreetly jerking her head towards the back seat filled with her family, where someone just referred to a cheeseburger as the “existential choice”. (But for whom, I quietly wonder, the cow or the diner?)
“I think I know what you mean” I say back to her.
“That’s our mom” yells one of the young adults from the back suddenly, making sure I know whom I am dealing with. “ She is dynamite. She takes 20,000 steps a day.”
"Are you guys in tech?" I ask 3 clearly-in-tech youngsters headed to the Train of Dreams (CalTrain to Palo Alto) station.
"No", one answers "we are in nuclear fusion."
I think of all the places where I wouldn't take this at face value.
"Silicon Valley is stealing our best talent." Says the Wall Street suit.
"I cannot even tell you how much that worries me" I say, poker-faced.
also san francisco
A ridesharing driver, artist and a commentator operating out of San Francisco.
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