60. No Matter, I Love San Francisco

© Golden Gate -signedSomething changed inside of me but at the time I didn’t realise this.  I loved San Francisco and I continued to enjoy being there.  I made a point to walk the Golden Gate Bridge for leisure with a thousand thoughts racing through my mind like the choppy ocean below.  

One of those swirling emotions was in regards to Noori.  By now I had written to her a few letters.  Of course I could only mail them to my family home and trust that my sister or mother would be sure to give these to her.  But you know I never, not once received a reply.

Down the road a ways I heard many tales of what happened in her life since I left.  It’s really quite saddening because I couldn’t help as a lot of us do, to think, ‘what if?’  

It was around mid-summer when I changed jobs from the Italian restaurant and through the Union I moved uptown into a position in a very nice hotel.  There was a lovely American restaurant on the rooftop level, the 17th floor as memory serves and well, that was a good experience to have.

I left the Italian joint under very good circumstances.  They were all too happy to provide me with a letter of recommendation as well.  It had been a good relation; roughly 6 months of employment and all good memories.

Even though I am not able to recall the name of that beautiful hotel now, what I remember most about working way up there is how much I always enjoyed the view, oh the view!  

By now you should know how much I absolutely loved watching all the ships coming and going through the Bay.  And at night I would be mesmerised by the lights on the Bay Bridge.  What a treat as far as I was concerned.  Very nice.

Back to my new position.  The food in this establishment was top notch, spread out in a delectable buffet.  The selected dishes were of excellent quality and the clientele definitely had the wallet affording to pay for that phenomenal view.

I was quickly flowing with the hotel restaurant staff, customers and management and yes I’ll admit it, I was loved.  I made an hourly wage and kept my own tips and really good tips they were!  I stayed employed here about 4-5 months.

I still enjoyed the occasional ‘joyride’ on the cable cars, heading out to the turnaround point at Market & Powell Streets.  I loved helping turn the car and waiting for people to climb aboard for the traditional thing to do in San Francisco.

When some friends and I would head out to Fisherman’s Wharf, we were going not for the fish but for what we thought was the best pizza and ice cold beers.  Saturdays however were reserved for crab eats!

I’ve been living in the city for all of the seasons now and winter was once again setting in.  It would be cold earlier than later and I remember my friends and I walking around the city and always realising ‘suddenly’ that it was so cold!

We would pop into an inviting coffee shop, plug a nickel or three into the jukebox and enjoy a hot coffee or chocolate to the sounds of Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, Elvis, Patsy Cline, Frank Sinatra, well you get the idea.

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55.  February in the City, Moving Right Along

The next morning I went out into the city.  Market Street would get my attention today.  And yes, I tested my thigh power up some of the hilly streets too; it was time to really explore my options.  I knew I must get a profitable routine kicked into gear and very soon!

I found an Indian restaurant on Jones Street and I noticed their business hours were dinner only.  Still I was able to enter.  I asked to visit with the manager and it was quickly arranged as that same man in the rather plain dining room was one of the owners.  

Here was a bearded American man named Bill and we spoke for a few moments.  He told me that his friend/business partner, also an American, was the cook back in the kitchen.  He was married to an Anglo-Indian lady and it was she who guided him in the art of her Indian cooking.

The other man, Jack, came out too and I spoke mostly to him, asking questions and sharing my experience.  He explained they were a young business and proposed to start me with only tips and food for pay.  

“If you are able to build our customer base, fill more tables then we’ll negotiate guaranteed wages,”  Bill told me.  As it was relayed to me, Bill was the financier of the restaurant and Jack had the Indian influence.  I seriously considered the offer.

I’d assured the two gentlemen I’d come back by the end of the week if I would accept.  We parted company and then I strolled around for a while to see if anything else would call to me.  

Obeying the pangs in my stomach, I found my way to a nice lunch at one of many local Chinese restaurants.  

Well it’s still winter and nothing sounds better than a good nap after a filling lunch so back to the hotel and up I went for a nice, deep afternoon rest.  

Not long after I got up I received a call from the guys I had gone to the farm with.  They asked if I was doing all right.  That was real nice.  Then they must’ve told the other guys who stayed in the city that I decided the farm was not for me and came back.  

I got a call from them offering their company.  “Hey let’s go get coffee and do some window shopping!”  I certainly appreciated that but realizing the need to focus on the things I must I graciously declined, telling them honestly that I wanted to feel out the city on my own for a couple of days.  

Their response reflected understanding, their disposition most cheerful.  The guys offered their local telephone number so I should call if I needed anything.  That was so kind.

I spent that evening walking my neighborhood stretch of San Francisco, observing this part of America, my current residence, so far away from my youth and my previously known comforts.  All this would now have to become part of the graduated me.

I would serve myself warmed leftover Chinese for dinner.  A nice hot shower would lead me straight to bed and it was lights out.

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54. Escape From the Farm!

It’s now the 4th day into my farming adventure.  I did not get out of bed to go up another tree.  I couldn’t help but notice there was a lot of commotion round about the place.  I decided to get up if for nothing else then to see what was happening.

To summarize; an older man, a Punjabi gentleman also did not get out of bed to go to the trees this morning.  It would seem it wasn’t by choice though.  The coroner had just arrived in the community to collect him; not an all together unfamiliar scene here apparently, at least according to the talk I was catching.

His personal belongings were soon collected by some authoritative figure at the camp.  This man had lived in a different ‘residence’ than I, so I didn’t actually see everything but of course word travelled fast and I was amazed when I heard about this man’s stash.

A wooden box had been retrieved from under his bed.  Apparently the elder man was indeed old fashioned and having no use for modern ways, never used a bank.  There must’ve been years of cash, his pay I guess, stuffed neatly away in that box.  

I remember hoping the right thing would be done and the money sent off to his next of kin, if indeed they could be found.  I was 22 years of age and I knew full-well that I didn’t want to leave this farm like that so …   

Escape from the farm!   I found the guys I’d came in with and thanked them for helping me get this job.  I confessed I was not cut out for this and it was my time to leave; must return to my original path, the one in the city.  

They offered to drive me to the Greyhound bus station and gratefully I accepted the lift.  It was nice to have a few dollars in my pocket:  I bought a ticket and was on my way.

Lalit offered a cheerful smile when I walked into his front door of the hotel.  It also felt good to pay my rent 2 weeks (total of $14) in advance.  

A nice hot shower was in order and that night I slept very well in my own space.  

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