Golden Gate Gripes by John Sammon

What do you do when you haven’t taken a vacation for years, and you’re so over-worked you can’t remember your name? Do something stressful. I’m being facetious. But not much.

I wanted to go to the South Seas and become a bearded Paul Gauguin, but agreed to a lesser trip to San Francisco for two days because of bills including putting braces on my twelve-year-old daughter’s teeth. Driving there, I noted that people are insane
They’re going eighty in the slow lane. It’s a wide freeway. Why did that bastard have to cut in front of me? What kind of country is this?”
My hands shook.

This trip came about because my daughter wanted to see the stage production of Lion King.
By some miracle, we arrived in the city unharmed and threaded our way past slow-turning traffic lights; electric cable buses and cocktail-drinking restaurant overflow crowds (imbibing in the street) to the hotel. Told our room wasn’t cleaned yet, we killed time looking in stores. I needed to find a place, any place, out of the way of surging pedestrians coming from every direction like a herd of wildebeests.Big cities can be dirty. Lots of paper strips blowing around.
Guys holding cardboard signs that read, “need work.” But Bush said the economy was good. We got our room. A nice room. I could have hunkered like a trapped animal. But it was time for the theater. Only three miles away. Already worn out, I tried to drive there—-up Lombard Street. A nightmare come true. Hell on earth. Purgatory. Judgment Day. Rush hour. Intersections jammed with humanity. We crawled along. The cars ahead would stop, leaving me stranded in the middle of an intersection. Cars on both flanks whom I was now blocking blared horns.

“Why did I let you talk me into this?” I used uncouth language. I sang a Tony Bennett song about San Francisco as a vicious parody. “I left my (swear word)—-in San Francisco!” Where did all these people come from? It all started with just damn Adam and Eve.” I was mad boy.

We reached what I judged to be a tough section of town. I commented on the fiscal status of the inhabitants.
“I have a hundred dollars on me. I wish I had my gun.” We parked in an underground parking garage. I hate those. What if an earthquake happened and we’re buried alive? We made it to a restaurant in a hotel near the theater where we intended to have dinner. The waiter explained that staff was absent, so we could only have salad.
“I’ll get even with you for this.” I mumbled under my breath while my wife’s back was turned.

We had to go to an elevator to get to the street. I avoid elevators because of chronic claustrophobia.
“Where are the stairs?” There were no stairs. I’m doing everything I hate most in life, fighting traffic, crowds, sitting in subterranean parking garages, riding elevators. What if the power goes out and we’re trapped? I decided to ride the elevator. I didn’t want my wife and daughter to face it alone. I drank several glasses of wine at the theater. The show was great, the audience huge. At half time, like a human river, they rushed into the lobby. I couldn’t use the bathroom because the line was too long. I threatened to relieve myself on the rug in a corner, but didn’t. When we got back to the hotel, I relaxed. I had faced danger, and survived. The next day was better!