Monday, November 17, 2014

Move, B%#CH, Get Out the Way!

So, the other day I called my mom while standing on a bluff overlooking the ocean. She lived in Sacramento for a couple years and she loves it here. I thought she would get a kick out of hearing the ocean. I had just finished asking her if she could hear the waves when a guy behind me rudely shouted, "Hey, we are trying to take pictures here, can you move? You're on the phone."

The bluff I was standing on at Pescadero State Beach. 

I had been caught off guard so my initial reaction was to comply with his request. Maybe I was being inconsiderate by talking on my phone in a spot that gets a lot of attention from photographers. Then I started to let it roll around in my head. His tone was very offensive and I wasn't intentionally trying to piss him off. Just because you are annoyed with someones behavior doesn't mean you have the right to be an offensive jerk. He even ended his snotty request with an obvious remark about what I was doing. I know I am on the phone, bastard.

Suddenly my mouth started to open and so began another classic encounter.

"Yeah" I said, "I am aware that I am on the phone."

I gave him a glare of disapproval as I walked past and then continued to talk to my mom. He wasn't happy about my comment as you might have guessed. I mean, even without my intentional prodding he had become a confrontational shit head, now I was blatantly trying to upset him. I should take a moment to describe this person so you can get a good idea of the kind of person he is. He was in his late 40s and in good shape. He probably surfs or does yoga or some other California-esque activity that people engage in to achieve an even balance or a state of zen, clearly it's all an act for this dude. He has a blonde pony tail down to the middle of his back that he probably thinks is beautiful but to cautious onlookers it's a desperate attempt to hang onto any remaining traces of his youth. Tight jeans, a loose fitting t shirt, an expensive camera and a Mini Cooper complete the package. If I had to guess, based on his appearance and sense of entitlement, he is a true California narcissist.

He approached me in a way that, where I come from, says 'get ready for a fist fight'. Much like a charging animal, however, he was just bluffing to see if I would cower. Now, just inches from my face, the facade started to crack on this otherwise chilling surfer dude.

"Listen, you were blocking my shot now you don't have to be a fucking dick about it." He said, talking through his teeth.

"You're the one who is being the dick buddy. Get the fuck away from me and go take your stupid picture."

He stayed in my face for a minute pretending to contemplate whether or not he was going to physically assault me. I knew better and I wasn't going for it. I continued with my smartass glare and tuned back into my conversation with my mom, who was still on the phone listening.

"What an asshole." She said

I replied to her in a volume that was accessible to all of the people standing on the bluff, including macho photographer guy.

"That's how some people are out here. They see something they don't like and they open their stupid ass mouths. You should see this guy, mom. Typical asshole with a pony tail who thinks his photograph is going to win some kind of award or something. Newsflash: You can buy 10 postcards in town with that same photo on them and they're all better than his. Oh, he is leaving now..."

My voice got louder so he could hear me as he stormed off,

"Oh, get this, he drives a MINI COOPER. HA, Nice car if you are a woman. What a pansy."

He pulled onto the highway and was visibly upset by my personal attacks. I can't help it. When people take it upon themselves to shake-up the social barriers that keep everyone comfortable, I take it personal. I hope I have done an adequate job of describing this guy because I want all of my Midwestern friends to understand that people like this guy DO NOT exist in your neighborhood. This is one of the unpleasant differences I have experienced since we started travelling. There are other differences, subtle as they may be, that I have encountered and I think it is these differences that make travelling such a great experience.

For instance, wherever you live, you take for granted how the gas pumps work. You just take it off the hook and put the nozzle in your car and begin fueling. I am here to tell you that the gas pumps in EVERY SINGLE STATE have different rules and regulations so the experience is quite different depending on which state you are in. Oregon has a law that PROHIBITS you from pumping your own gas. Full service gas stations are alive and well there. In California the pumps have these large black vacuum hoses that suck up all of the fumes and recirculate them into the holding tanks. Also, that little metal piece that you use to lock the pump in the ON position so you don't have to hold it while you pump, I have seen 4-5 different designs for those. The ones in California require two hands. I am used to the Michigan design that allows me to flick it into position with my ring finger. Octane levels all vary too. Depending on where you are at, 87 octane can either be regular OR midgrade. I know, mind blowing.

Grocery shopping is also an experience that varies from place to place. The obvious difference is the produce section. Michigan offers apples, sweet corn and cabbage all for ridiculously low prices. These crops all require massive amounts of water and in Michigan we have plenty of that. Head west and water becomes harder to come by so, anything that uses lots of water is naturally more expensive. When you get to the checkout line in Minnesota they ask you if you want paper of plastic, meaning what kind of bags do you want. When you get to the Pacific Coast they ask you if you need a bag. Say yes and you get charged 10 cents for each one. This sort of makes me chuckle inside because things are SO EXPENSIVE out here yet the people who live here will do anything to save a dime.

The point I am trying to make is that when I left home 3.5 months ago I had visions of myself standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon with my arms outstretched and standing on a boat in Puget Sound with whales all around me. The reality is that those experiences NEVER turn out as advertised. For starters, you are NEVER alone when seeing these attractions. Foreigners in rented RVs, boy scout troops, kids who are being force-fed stimuli from their parents, and people who call their pets 'fur babies' are going to be crowding around you to get their glimpse of the american dream. The true experience of it all is in the details. Small differences that make you go "hmmm" and little nuances that pique your sense of wonder are what travelling is all about.

We took a day trip to San Francisco this week. Here are some pictures.

Go here. Eat Chinese food. You're welcome. 
We went comic shopping!
We hung out on the pier and watched the sea lions.

Riding the BART train into the city. We tried to use public transit the whole time but San Francisco is the birthplace of UBER and it's just TOO easy to use here.
I have spent their entire lives teaching them to be Tigers fans. After just ONE MONTH in the bay area, they are apparently Giants fans.  
On the corner of the historic Haight and Ashbury intersections you will find a Ben and Jerry's. The kids enjoyed it. Don't worry deadheads, you can still buy drugs from the homeless hippies located right across the street.
I took this photo at the entrance to the De Young Museum. A security guard scolded me and told me that if I happened to capture an image of the art work to please delete it or I could be fined. HA! Here you go internet.

One of the things I hope for, in sharing this journey with you, is that I can inspire you to not only travel, but to just get out and observe the things around you. Don't worry about saving up to go to a tourist destination, just go somewhere new and immerse yourself in the local culture...and when you get there don't yell at people who are unintentionally blocking your view. 

1 comment:

  1. These posts are getting better and better. You have me laughing out loud and making my coworkers wonder what I'm reading.

    Those California narcissists will prevail more and more if you go to Southern California. Or "Cali" as they call it. Some truly astonishing species of people out there in the world.

    I like the fact that at Butano you guys are blending in and joining the local rhythms, not just observing but participating. I think that's truly the way to travel. "Go native" as much as possible.

    If you guys come up here (just a little cold, not bad!) I will take you to a place where you can spread your arms to the Grand Canyon and not have people around you. Benefits of being a local, it will be worth it. I know some spectacular trails too. All here for you! DAVE