San Francisco, You Did Me a Solid

Trying to get things done in a city is futile. Trying to get things done quickly is impossible. In nearly every big city I’ve lived in or visited it is impossible to get something done quickly. It’s not just about population density or geography. It’s a mentality. One has to adopt the mindset appropriate to letting go of the idea of speed.

Imagine the utter dread that filled me last night when we were going to get Leta ready for bed. 750 miles from her normal bed. It was determined that we’d forego our usual avoidance of fast food and take advantage of the McDonald’s across the street. Right as I was heading out to pick up dinner for the family, we realize that we’ve left a bag behind. 45 minutes behind (if you take 280 into the city from the airport). Our most important piece of luggage is behind. I call the airline and get put on hold. I walk over to McDonald’s and I’m about to go inside when the operator picks up and demands numbers I don’t have. Rather than wait 15 more minutes on hold, I sprint back to the hotel room, keeping the operator on the line the entire time. I give the number. The operator tells me there’s no record of the bag being scanned. So I’ll have to go to the airport to pick it up. If someone hasn’t stolen it. The airline will not deliver the bag to the hotel. It’s my fault. I will pay. After I get food for the family, which the youngest member will not eat, even though it’s junk food.

I instantly have visions of 3 hour waits at the airport while paper work gets processed and scanned and the bag gets re-routed to Topeka and back again. I kiss the family and jump into action, telling Heather to expect me back at 4 am.

This is where the cogs of the universe align. The moment after I pay the parking attendant and head down Oak to Octavia and out to the 101. It takes me 7 minutes to get to the 101. Not bad. Another 12 minutes and I’m at the airport. I take the perfect line for the parking garage (out of 80 choices, and much jostling by people in a hurry) and park the car right next to an elevator. An elevator is waiting for me. I go down to the terminal access level and sprint up a couple of flights of stairs where I’m back at our carousel, which happens to be right next to the your-so-fucked baggage office. As I walk in to get help, I see our bag cordoned off with a lot of other bags. The guy shows up immediately and I show my number and describe the bag, telling him where it is in the cordoned off area. He verifies my ID and I’m off with the bag and I sprint back down the stairs, get into the car and escape the parking garage without having to pay, because I haven’t been there longer than 12 minutes.

Getting back into the hotel takes 20 minutes, me driving like I used to when I lived in California. Which means that I made quick decisions to move through traffic and no passive aggressive horseshit aftermath to deal with. You see the opening you take it and move on. It’s not personal, I just have to get the very important contents of the bag back to the hotel room as quickly and safely as possible so move, people.

The whole adventure took 45 minutes and we all survived. I’ve never had this kind of luck before, so perhaps this is either a sign of good things to come or a sign that all the times I let cars in who were trying to turn or merge in heavy traffic has paid off. I still can’t believe that the bag wasn’t stolen and that it wasn’t half as painful to go back to the airport as I thought.

For once, San Francisco, you served me well.

  • http://birchsprite.blogspot.com/ Birchsprite

    Hoorah for Leta’s bag and for having such a clever Daddy!

  • http://www.isoglossia.com s gazzetti

    Your traffic fu is strong.

    Hope you had some licorice in that bag.

  • http://www.jenjennyjennifer.typepad.com jenjennyjennifer

    For six years I traveled 21 days out of every month, and many of those flights were traveling into and out of SFO. I couldn’t even get the rental car shuttle to pick me up within 45 minutes! What you accomplished should be put in the record books! Bravo!

  • http://www.kevinworthington.com:8181 Kevin Worthington

    The Clog Gods have smiled upon you.

  • http://rivetergirl.blogspot.com rivetergirl

    Ah, yes, the big city goddess of mercy bestowed you with a gift ó most likely aided by your stockpile of karma. Having grown up across the bay and having lived in the city for a while, I have a soft spot for San Francisco and its inherent beauty. Enjoy your time there for all of us who wish we were there.

  • http://MissingInIraq.blogspot.com MissingInIraq

    I misread ‘cogs of the universe’ as ‘clogs of the universe’ and now feel there’s a deeper message there. Only I’m still not buying no stinkin’ clogs. I’ll take my chances with the airport gods – they owe me anyway.

  • http://www.jillshalvis.com/blog Jill Shalvis

    The licorice Gods are spreading their thanks. Enjoy the boon.

  • http://www.lifeatmonkeyhill.blogspot.com J_Bo

    I thought you said, ‘This is where the *clogs* of the universe align.’

  • dylan

    Wow. I just moved out of the bay area, and I don’t think i was ever able to make that trip in nearly that little time. Quite impressive.

  • http://silentgoddess.squarespace.com Lane Meyer

    Sometimes life just clicks :)

    Enjoy your stay in Cali.

  • http://doctortongue.com doctor tongue

    The clog ‘n’ licorice gods were smiling down on you…

  • http://www.aflux.net Anna

    Ever since we moved and I started getting to take 280 and enjoy all of its four lane cop free goodness instead of 101’s pothole ridden CPH haven, I’ve been a much happier (and faster) camper.

    Kudos to you on making the trip so quickly. The locals are impressed! 😉

  • MegsNP

    You should have bought a lottery ticket, too.
    Wow.

  • DrKoob

    John,
    Next time this happens, immediately go and buy a lottery ticket. Seriously. All that good karma is amazing! You and SF rock.

  • http://eyesaverted.blogspot.com/ Wicked H

    Yes indeed. It is the Ju Ju of the CLOG!

  • moonrattled

    That’s some excellent Karma!

  • http://www.dooce.com Jennifer in Ohio

    Yay!

    And now, repeat after me, “I will never ever forget THAT bag again”.

    Enjoy your luck. The forces of the universe don’t work with you that often. If it had been me, I’d still be stuck in traffic.

  • http://www.godtar.com Charles R. Kaiser

    Funny, I have dyslexia, and I read it as “cogs” first time. . . 😉

  • FeelinFroggy

    Your bags would end up in Kansas City not Topeka but I get your point. If they do end up in Topeka I will take really good care of them until it is time for them to go home.

  • http://www.patatomic.com patatomic

    Wait…let me get this straight:

    YOU ATE AT MCDONALDS WHEN YOU HAD THE GREATEST CULINARY TREASURES IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD AT YOUR DISPOSAL?

    Man, I just don’t get it.

    Seriously though, one time I drove to the airport to pick up a friend and I came home to the exact same parking space. For once, living in Inner Sunset made sense.

  • http://shoeism.blogspot.com Th?©r?®se

    Wow. The universe loved you that day. That could have gone badly in about 47 ways.

    It’s nice, though, isn’t it, when it happens this way?

  • http://shoeism.blogspot.com Th?©r?®se

    I have to admit, though… when I read the title, I was absolutely sure the post would have something to do with poop. Somehow.

    Hee hee hee hee.

  • http://www.blurbomat.com blurb

    patatomic, eat me, douche. You don’t get to talk about culinary anything after that SLC mexican “restaurant” you dragged us to where we waited 45 minutes for meat on a tortilla. No beans, no guac, nothing but meat and torilla. 45 minutes.

    YOU ARE DEAD TO ME.

  • http://dooce.migrantroo.com minxlj

    LOL I guess you don’t let him choose the restaurant now? :-)

    I have fond memories of my trips to SF, my favourite place in the world. Not a thing went wrong on those trips, not with flights or bags or food or money or any of the usual crap. Wonderful place and wonderful people. Don’t quite remember how long it took us to get to SFO as I was too busy daydreaming about moving to SF.

    Now try getting from ANYWHERE in London to anywhere else within 45 minutes, and it just doesn’t happen. Ever. I detest going there, I really do.

  • http://www.patatomic.com patatomic

    45 minutes? Alright then “Cap’n x 10″ I guess that it was 45 minutes.

    I’ll have you know that that was a discovery made in my Summer of Explorationô, when I actually got out there and discovered new eats. Sometimes they are keepers, sometimes not.

    A brief, but well rounded list of my culinary discoveries wherein one Jon “Donny” Armstrong has been the beneficiary:

    – Charlie Chows
    – Cancun Taqueria
    – Citrus Garden Cafe
    – Tony Caputo’s Deli

    Jonís list:

    – Sonic
    – Quiznos
    – Leggers
    – Burger King (aka, The King)

  • http://www.patatomic.com patatomic

    Oh yeah…one more for Jon:

    – Taco Time

  • PixelFish

    Hrm. You guys are staying in my hood! *resists temptation to go stalk the Blurbodoocerites*

    And yeah, that new Octavia entrance to the 101 does speed things up mightily.

    Random restaurant recommendations, across a variety of prices and neighbourhoods, if you guys want:

    * Park Chow (on 9th, near GG Park) – fabulous vegetarian lasagna (with baby corn and tiny tomatoes) and a really yummy ginger cake with pumpkin ice cream and caramel drizzle. Most entrees on the menu are in the 8-12 dollar range. You could probably comfortably eat there with Leta, even if she starts fussing a bit, because the atmosphere is somewhat relaxed. They have an upstairs with heat lamps and a fireplace.

    * Tiramisu (Belden Place, downtown) – Fairly nice, super crowded and intimate though, so maybe less somethign you’d want to do with Leta, specially if she’s tired. Spendy though. (My BF and I regularly hit 100+ dollars eating here.) Really good veal scallopini and risotto on the menu right now. Also, they do a sample of EVERYTHING on their dessert menu for 9 dollars a person. Since their desserts normally cost 9 dollars each, and are so rich, you can’t eat more than a bite or two of any one dessert, this is an excellent way to have lots of variety.

    + Kan’s (Grant st., Chinatown) -middle of the road Chinese food with the best water service I have ever had, and excellent spring rolls, so I am willing to forgive their being merely average in all other respects. Usually uncrowded, and amenable to children.

    + Citizen Cake (somewhere around Hayes and Goughish, near the symphany) EXCELLENT desert. I got drunk off of a non-alcoholic desert here once. (It had saffron in it.) Expensivish for dinner, but about average for desert.

    + Big Lantern (16th and Valencia-ish) Good cheap dimsum….for some reason in the middle of the Mission. They also deliver for free, so if you get really tired and just wanna order to your hotel room, you can do that too. (biglantern.com)

    Dunno how much longer you guys are planning on staying in SF, but I hope you enjoy yer stay.

  • http://marginalthoughts.blogspot.com/ danielle

    “Which means that I made quick decisions to move through traffic and no passive aggressive horseshit aftermath to deal with.”

    Best description of what driving in California is like. I moved from Texas and spent a few months adjusting to the ways of the road out here, but I finally got it down.

  • http://www.godtar.com Charles R. Kaiser

    Jon,

    If for any reason you ever find yourself in Newmarket, Ontario (can’t for the life of me think why you would), I’ll treat you to a meal at India Gate. They’ve got great food.

    No good Mexican food here to speak of.

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