SF

I Feel Like I Know Him

Sometimes in a city the size of San Francisco--not too big, not too small, some might say just right--you get close to people who are total strangers. Closer, at least, than you were before you never saw them at all.

This big city is such a small town that you can see the same people every day on your way to and from work. You are neighbors, apparently, who work in places along the same route. You know his red and black plaid lumberjack shirt that smells like fresh cigarette smoke and his sock hat pulled over wet hair and how he plays solitaire on his phone every morning as if there are no other games.

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There is the morning when you are still sleepy and the music in your ears is lulling and the hum of the bus comforts you, and for an instant you let your neck go slack and your body falls slightly to the left, before you realize you nearly laid your head to rest on the shoulder of a man whose name you do not know.


Dolores Park, Sunday, July 7th, 2013, 1:39 p.m.

A man in tie-dyed pants has come to the park with amps and turntables and records and is spinning house music that can be heard over the chatter and barking dogs and the occassional clack of the train at the top of the hill. He appears to be alone and no one is dancing.

A girl twirls a parasol embroidered with gold with gold fringe on her shoulder, and it twinkles. She appears to have stepped out of a Delia's catalogue, her mini-dress and spiderweb tights and platform boots (complete with hippy headband across her brow, puffing up young hair) completely out of place on the perfect, cloudless Mission District day when you can see a bank of fog over Twin Peaks and wave at it from the distance.

The park is filling up now and young women are drinking rosé straight from the bottle. This park is a bit of a miracle as park-goers openly drink and smoke pot and even buy edible marijuana treats from a man with a Yelp listing and 63 reviews. Even as I write this the man directly in front of me is telling his out-of-town guest about the guy with the copper kettles and the potent truffles you should "eat only half" of. 

Two men on a too-small blanket to my right are sharing a glass pipe stuffed full of medical-grade marijuana. They are discussing the strain and whether it was worth the amount they paid. They agree it is.

People are starting to dance now.

Park

It's getting closer to 2, and the park is filling up. A guy wearing a red sweatband is rolling a blunt, licking the paper with his fat, flat tongue. His small dog is wearing a pink flower with streamers that trip it up when it tries to get away.

The house music is bad. A baby wearing noise-blocking headphones (always cute) is tossed gently into the air. A new group of three is smoking a hookah. 

A square-looking couple has brought along a table, a small wooden table, on which they have placed average beer and middle-of-the-road potato chips. They dance awkwardly from a seated position, both with heads down scrolling through their phones.

I suddenly find myself envious of a girl now dancing to the bad house music. She's the only one, really. She's wearing a long flowing dress and a devil-may-care grin, young limbs flailing effortlessly. Even as the DJ crashes and burns she makes it look easy and delightful, as though no one is watching. It's as if she has no neuroses at all.

Much like the girls, the 2 or 3 among hundreds, wearing bikinis. Even as beautiful, how do they?

A woman lowers sticks tied with string into a bucket and pulls out an enormous bubble, a giant floating orb refracting light. A toddler claps in delight even as the bubble disappears before her with a soundless snap.

A woman of likely meager means carries a bag on a heavy stick that rests on her shoulders. She approaches blankets and waits as people down the rest of their chardonnay so that she can take the bottle, which fetches 5 or 10 cents.

An earnest face in sensible glasses is collecting signatures, and I hope he does not come over here.

"Support AIDS walk? Buy a Jell-O shot?" is overheard coming from a man rolling a blue cooler.

A guy in Vibrams offers two girls in tank tops a palm reading. They wince at his offer, and I feel bad for everyone involved, but he is gone just as quickly as he arrived.

The air smells of grass. It is light, faint, barely touching any of us.

[photo: potential past; creative commons license]


Rollercoaster City

SF Nob hillThe other morning, like many mornings, the 12-Folsom just decided not to show up. 12s only come every 20 minutes, so I took a different bus that would get me 3/4s of the way to work, deciding to jump out and grab a cab at that point.

Which is what I did. I was lucky to snag a taxi at that time of morning, and with a nice driver, too. I told him where I was going, and he sent the car into motion, deftly moving it through rush hour traffic.

Soon we were in Nob Hill. The roads cleared there, as though they were waiting for us. The asphalt was glowing with morning sunlight, and all the buildings, too. It wasn't foggy, but hazy. Sunshine fighting hard for dominance lit everything on fire. 

The steely mass of the Bay Bridge popped into view, all splendor and strength, and we were flying. The taxi moved like a rollercoaster over the crests of the hills. Steep inclines and dramatic plummets sent my bladder into my gut and my gut into my throat. The speed and gravity and up and down so fast sent edorphins running all over my brain, and I fought the urge to squeal.

This is my city. This taxi ride is my commute. This thrill, this joy, this rollercoaster ride to work with postcard views spilling out from all sides is why I live here.

San Francisco remains a fairy tale city for me. A fairy tale city full of danger and crime and homelessness and human shit. 

But any place where a ride to work feels like a ride at an amusement park is okay by me. 


I Like Mornings In The City

I like mornings in the city, the rush and choreographed chaos of the urban commute.

I like to see people with wet hair, an intimate look often only seen by families or your lover. Wet hair makes people look more vulnerable, more alive. 

I like to smell the fresh soaps and aftershaves recently applied. 

Pause.

I like to watch the women transform bald eyes into feathery, smokey things at each bus stop. 

I like to watch the scurrying with cups of coffee held close to cold faces. I like to image what they packed for lunch in those cooler packs. 

Hours and hours lie ahead to spoil everything, but in the morning there is a sense of tenacity and commitment that makes it all seem okay, since there is all of us.


Goodbye Apron, Hello (Again) HootSuite

You either make time to write or you don't. It's a priority or it's not. Having an excess of time one one's hands does not compel one to write. I still don't have it narrowed down exactly what compels people to write, but I'm highly suspect that an excess of free time is a motivator to sit down and put words down.

Several months ago I gave up my media job in San Jose and began waiting tables. The goal was to spend a couple of years carving out a career as a freelance writer. I was going to go back to my roots to put that magazine journalism degree to good use. I was taking a leap of faith in my own abilities, discipline and drive. I was prepared to be poor. I was asked what I wanted to do, decided, then threw myself into it whole-hog. I was going to write.

I've published nothing since. In 7 months I've earned not a single byline. It's not for lack of writing. There has been lots and lots of writing. But when I began to explore what I wanted out of this endeavor, what I was best at, where my strengths were, I discovered I didn't want to write articles for newspapers, websites and magazines. I didn't want to be a freelance journalist.

I want to tell my own stories.

Whether in raw essay form or barely hidden behind the veil of fabricated characters, the power of my voice exists within the stories I have accumulated. Telling you what happened, secrets and all, is what I'm best at. Telling my tales is where all the impetus lies, the real reason I sit down to write most days. Everything else distracts from this best goal.

Of course, coming to terms with what I am supposed to be writing meant coming to terms with the knowledge that people will be hurt. Telling one's stories means being brave and taking huge interpersonal risks. It means pushing down the voice inside you that demands, "This is off-limits. Stop your story." And that voice is very loud.

Deciding to tell my stories also means finding myself in tears on a regular basis. Or as angry as hot lava as writing a passage reveals more about that incident than I had previously recalled. Or dripping in self-doubt. Telling one's stories is a constant therapy session. It's exhausting.

Much like waiting tables is exhausting. I had forgotten how much it takes out of you.

Waitress

 

I just remembered that I waited tables and tended bar while going to college. Surely, I could do that again and write on the side. Waiting tables would free me up to carve out that freelancer writer life I thought I wanted. Waiting tables would pay the bills while I created a sustainable income for myself doing what I love.

But waiting tables is fucking hard! Even working part-time, the work leaves me both mentally and physically worn out. It's stressful, high-impact and it leaves this nearly 35-year-old beat and with a backache. And it's certainly not as lucrative as I had imagined. You don't get to come back to the restaurant industry after a decade away, now living in one of the most acclaimed dining cities in the world, and get primo shifts at Michelin-star rated restaurants. I have friends who pull 80 grand a year waiting tables, but they have been working their way into these choice positions all along, and they are absolutely phenomenal at their trade.

Truth be told, I'm just a mediocre server. I was told by my dear friend Leo, a friend I made at the restaurant where I work now, "you're not a restaurant person." At the time I was offended. He refused to go into detail; that's how Leos do. But I thought about it for days: "How am I not a restaurant person?"

One beer-soaked evening (for those in the industry there are many), Leo indulged me and expounded further: "You care too much. You let people get to you. I can see you standing at your tables with Pissed Off written all over your face. If you let your tables get under your skin, you are not a great server."

He was right. And putting it that way made me feel less like a failure at serving. I'm decent at it. But I'm never going to get a gig at The French Laundry. Not happening.

And so, because freelance articles were not where I was focusing my writing efforts and because it became apparent that, for me, waitressing was a dead-end enterprise, I began to panic. OH MY GOD, I thought, I'm going to be a 40-year-old waitress barely scraping rent money together. The idea kept me up at night. How was I going to retire someday? Ever take a vacation? Have adequate health insurance, for fuck's sake?

Lucky for me--I am often lucky for reasons beyond my comprehension--a career angel came knocking at my door. A position for CBS Local Digital Media became available: Social Media Coordinator. And the guy who recruited me to come out from Tennessee in 2007 asked if I wanted to come back to the world of Twittering and Facebooking for the media.

It was an offer too good to refuse. It includes a 401K, sick days (!), vacation time and the most precious thing of all: subsidized health insurance. Mr. Dentist, it's been too long, here I come.

I start next Monday. I'll be back at Broadway and Battery where my tenure in San Francisco began. I'm thrilled. It's the smart, responsible path to take, and I'm so much more secure in my well-being knowing something more financially stable is around the corner. At present I fear a bone break or sudden illness like children fear closet monsters. A hospital visit would put me back so far I'd never recover.

And I'll make time for writing. If I want to get it done, I will. I don't need a part-time job to tell my stories, just the wherewithal to get my ass in the chair and put the words down. John Grisham managed to pump out best-sellers while working 100 hours a week as a practicing attorney. I can tell my tale and also work 40. A media career path does not preclude literary accomplishment. I'm going to prove this theory.

October 1st I'm back to an office job. My desk is huge, my co-workers awesome and my bank account is breathing a sigh of relief. I'm excited. I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity.

For now, that's all the life news that is fit to self-publish.


The SFPD & Me: A Follow Up To My Story About Sexual Assault on Muni

When my post about my sexual assault on Muni and my subsequent experience with SFPD gained traction (starting with lots of RTs to the link and ending with posts on SFist and SFGate), I was glad. Some of the comments were hard to stomach, but by and large I recieved and outpouring of support and empathy that made me feel less alone. I thought it was important to see how many women replied with some horrific version of, "This happened to me, too." And if it meant one more person might report their own assault, then even better. I expected people to say that I was making ado about nothing or that I should have done X, Y and Z to avoid being groped by a stranger on the bus or that I was wasting the police force's time. What I did not expect was two suited inspectors from the Special Victims Unit at my front door one day after reporting to them my sexual assault on Muni.

Let me back up.

I was headed out the door to go bike shopping when I saw an alert from Facebook saying I had a private message. I opened the message to see that it was from a former colleague at NBC Bay Area. It said, "The SFPD called here looking for you. They said you are not in trouble but that they want to talk to you. I don't know how they know you used to work here." She did not feel comfortable giving out my contact information and instead sent that Facebook message along. It included a phone number.

I looked down at my phone to see I'd missed two calls from two blocked numbers, and that I had two unheard voice messages. One was from an inspector with the SFPD SVU, and they other one was, too. They wanted me to call them. I did, but got no reply.

I then dialed the number given to me in the Facebook message and spoke to a nice man who said he was in media relations and that they'd read the blog post and did I mind if he hung up and had SVU call me directly? I said I did not mind.

While waiting for the return call the doorbell rang. It was two inspectors from the Special Victims Unit in suits carrying briefcases. They were there to interview me about the 9-San Bruno bus groping.

I was a little taken aback to see them at the front door. Obviously, I invited them in and they began a recorded interview with me, a very thorough one, about what happened on the bus and where and what time and did I think I could remember what he looked like enough to be sketched. I said no.

These gentlemen were very respectful and professional and stayed asking me questions for 15-20 minutes. At the end they asked if I had any questions for them.

"I guess my only question is 'why are you here?' The man I spoke with yesterday made it sound like nothing would happen."

"I'm going to tell you what happens," one of the inspectors said, "but we're going to end the interview." And he turned the recorder off.

He told me more specifically about how the case would be handled and how they are going try to find video from the bus, if it's available. They also managed my expectations respectfully, telling me that the odds that he would be arrested are slim, but that now they have probable cause. 

They never addressed the blog post, though they did say, "we read your tweets." I'm not sure if every woman who reports a groping gets a house call, but I got the distinct feeling that the tweets might have had something to do with mine.

After showing the inspectors out, I returned to my laptop to find this comment on the blog post about the assault and the police report from San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr:

Brittney,
I am sorry to hear about your experience at our district station. We regret the traumatic and humiliating experience you underwent, and we agree that your encounter with the station counter officer could have and should have been handled differently. The SFPD prides itself on treating sexual assault and battery victims with concern and sympathy. The experience you have described is not to the level of service that SFPD is known for.

I was heartened by the message and felt much more at ease about how my local officers are trained to handle cases like mine. But I'd be lying if I didn't say I felt pretty overwhelmed by all the phone calls and voicemails and the house call.

My brain began to ask the question it had been asking since the beginning: Am I making too big a deal out of this? But all I had to do was recall the sensation of the violation and remember that I was only telling my story to know that no, I wasn't making too big a deal out of this.

I'll be honest, before I was groped on the bus I thought flashings and rubbings and grabbings on crowded subways were terrible things, but until I experienced it myself I did not know the real emotional trauma that can occur. The statistics about how many women have one time been molested or raped are ridiculously high; having some asshole grab your crotch can make a victim relive that all over again. Previously victimized or not, I now know that being assaulted in that manner by a stranger is a monsterous thing. I never expected it to feel so awful, but of course, I also never expected it. I admit I didn't go around steeling myself to an eventual groping. Though I do now, at least for the time being.

I want to say I'm impressed with the SFPD's response to my crime. They wanted to make it right, and for me they did. I do hope the same can be said for other women who experience the same thing , those who might not have what happened to them re-tweeted.


The Story of My Sexual Assault on Muni in San Francisco

Something happened to me yesterday that has happened to millions of women in cities all over the world. This is my story of sexual assault on public transportation, a bus in downtown San Francisco:


I was sitting in a seat by the window across from the rear doors with headphones on, listening to music, being careful to hide my loaner phone in my purse after I had my iPhone stolen out of my hand last week. A man sat down beside me in the empty seat.

I did what I usually do and quickly, discreetly sized up my seatmate. He was a disheveled middle-aged man with blonde hair that was either dusty or graying. He smelled strongly of alcohol on his breath, body and clothes. He didn't smell like piss and weeks upon weeks of not showering, like other unfortunate people who sometimes take the bus, but he looked like he was swiftly headed in that direction. This man was clearly intoxicated and behaving strangely. He swayed in his seat and repeatedly made the sign of the cross, which is highly disconcerting, let me assure you. When women would board and stand next to where he sat he would try to engage them. They would quickly move away. I should have followed them.

He tried to engage me as well. My defense was to aggressively ignore him on the very crowded bus by staring out the window and keeping my headphones on. I had just three stops to go. When he tried to talk to me (words I couldn't hear due to the music) I shook my head no and held my hand up, flattened, to signal that I wished to be left alone.

Muni Bus

The bus continued to lurch down busy Market Street. I pulled the cord to signal that I wanted off when the bus was due to stop again at 5th and Market.

I stood a few seconds before the bus came to a halt, a clear indiction that I was getting out and off the bus. When the bus stopped the man to my right swiveled his legs around rather than stand, so I took a wide step to get around him and as I did he grabbed me between my legs.

Without thinking I turned and swung my heavy purse containing a server's book, a hardback journal and loose, sharp pens at his head, but barely connected. I think the purse grazed his face. I screamed FUCK YOU, also without thinking, and fled off the bus.

I stepped down onto the concrete platform, my head swimming in a raucous tide. A young man beside me asked what happened. "He grabbed me between the legs," I told him. 

The young man shook his head. "And that man said, 'What?,' like he didn't do nothing."

My legs moved forward in spite of myself. I was floating down the sidewalk on Market Street trying to comprehend what had just happened. I was trying hard not to vomit. I felt ill; I was physically revolted. I shuddered and tears collected in the corners of my eyes. 

My lip quivered as I crossed the busy mall to the elevator that would take me to the restaurant where I work. Everything was foggy. My feelings were foggy and my vision was foggy and my mind was foggy. I couldn't believe what had just happened, and I couldn't believe how awful it made me feel. 

As I hit the button in the elevator for the 4th floor I realized for the first time I'd been sexually assaulted. I'd considered whether or not this was a big deal, checked the facts against my feelings and decided that yeah, it kind of was.

I walked into the restaurant in a daze. I walked over to put my bag away when my friend Leo put up his hand to give me a high five. I blurted out, "I was just sexually assaulted on the bus."

I told Leo and Marc more specifically what happened and the embarrassment rose in my face and the revulsion in my gut. I sat down at Table 100, put my forehead on my forearm, burying my face, and cried really hard.

Poor Leo and Marc stood there mostly silent. "This fucking city," was certainly uttered, as were several I'm sorries. They were both very comforting in their presence, but they seemed at a loss for words. And who can blame them?

"Do you want a glass of wine?," Leo offered. I looked down at my hands and they were shaking.

"YES," was my emphatic reply.

He went and poured a hefty glass of gruner veltliner, my favorite, and handed it to me. "Here. Slam this."

And I did. It helped immensely. My nerves were completely frayed and I was a mascara-y mess and I had a new two-top at Table 49. I freshened my make-up in the bathroom and by the time I took the couple's drink order the wine was kicking in and my nervous system began to unclench slightly. 

I made iced tea for the lady at 49 and waited for the bartender to pour a Trumer when I felt the first bubbles of boiling anger begin to rise within me. I was moving through the stages of grief very quickly. Suddenly I was fucking pissed.

I wanted to punch someone--specifically the asshole who grabbed me between my legs. Just typing that sends puke rising into my throat. I can recall with precise accuracy the sensation of his hand between my legs and I'm not sure I'll ever forget it. It felt like wrongness and violation and horror and evil. 

Marc, the sous chef, sensed my anger. He stood watching me fume.

"Is it too soon to make a joke?," he asked, knife in hand.

"It's been 15 minutes," I said. "I think it's probably overdue."

He grinned. "I'm going to say I was sexually assaulted, too, because I could really use a glass of wine right now."

I laughed and laughed and was grateful for the levity. And the wine.

As my shift continued I thought more about what had happened. "I was just wearing my work uniform," I thought. "It wasn't even anything..." I stopped myself before I could think it all the way. I was about to consider what I'd been wearing in trying to process what had happened to me. 

After urging from others I decided to go to the police precinct and report the crime today. I was reminded that there are cameras on Muni buses and that there might be viable video of him touching me. Even if not, these crimes are grossly underreported and even one more record of this kind of assault might mean more police presence in the future.

So, after my short lunch shift this afternoon I took a cab to 6th and Bryant to the Southern station to file a report. I took a cab because the next bus was reportedly 47 minutes away and I felt unsafe walking. That happens when you've had your crotch grabbed on public transit and the police precinct is in a sketchy-ish part of town. 

I entered and told the security guard I was there to report a crime. He told me to walk to a counter where officers were protected behind thick plastic or glass. I had to use a phone to talk to the policeman on the other side.

"I'm here to report a crime. I was groped on the bus."

"What happened?"

"I was groped on the bus. He grabbed me between my legs as I was exiting."

"Where did he grab you? Sorry, but you have to be more specific."

"He grabbed my vulva." I tried to tamp down my embarrassment.

"Okay. What do you want to do? File a report?" His tone made his words sound more like, "Are you serious? You came all the way down here for this?"

"Yes," I told him. Yes, I wanted to file a report.

He asked for more information. I gave it to him. He told me to wait. Then he came out and spoke with me face to face.

"We have two options here. We have a Muni task force. We can give them this info and they can be on the lookout for this guy. Or you can file a full report, but it won't do anything."

He made sure to tell me this guy wouldn't be caught even if I filed a report. For a moment I hedged. For a split second I considered not filing a report. He nearly convinced me. Then I remembered what I came there to do.

"I realize this guy probably won't be caught, but this crime is underreported and I want to do my due diligence and make sure this one is. And if it means more police presence later, then even better." He did not agree with me; he said nothing. The amount of sympathy he managed could fit into a thimble.

I waited more. While waiting with no where to sit for many minutes. I considered the infirm or pregnant or elderly women who would be very physically uncomfortable waiting to file a similar report. With nothing to be said of the emotional discomfort.

Finally I was given a slip of paper with my case number on it. I was told that usually sexual battery requires "skin on skin contact," but that that was how my case would be labeled. He told me I could follow the case online.

I initiated a hand shake. He finally, finally mustered that he was sorry this happened. He told me to be careful. It sounded a lot like, "don't let this happen to you again."

A less confident woman would not have filed this crime report for sexual assault. I know this, because I nearly didn't.

I have a lot more processing of emotions to do before I write more about what happened to me and how the situation was treated by SFPD. Plus, there is more to be revealed with how this case will be handled. But I wanted to write about this now for my own therapeutic reasons, but also to shine a light on a crime that happens regularly and that just might be downplayed by the people in charge of our safety. 

If this happens to you I urge you to report it to the police. Do not let them convince you to walk away without filing a report. Being groped against your will on the subway or bus or anywhere is sexual battery, and you deserve to stand up and have your assault counted.

More soon.


Such a San Francisco Scene

So, I was doing a little grocery shopping at the corner store because, even though it's more expensive, it's two blocks away and open until 2 a.m. I eat the cost difference and consider it serious time saved. It's fine. Whatever.

In my little hand basket were high-protein dry cat food, I Luv My Cat cans of wet food, pepper jack cheese, TP, paper towels, cat litter, grapefruit juice and sparkling wine for Midnight Mimosas*. While I was unloading all this stuff onto the counter this a young woman with streaks of blue in her hair that looked like it had been cut with a butter knife entered the corner store.

"Hey man, you gotta meet new girlfriend. She's rad. She rad, you're going to love her." She was talking to the guy behind the counter who began ringing up my things. "I got a new honey."

"That's what life is all about," the clerk offered. She clapped loudly in approval.

"Got some Fresh Step there." She poked at the bag of litter. "I have a kitty, too. You should get her the natural stuff."

"I usually do, this is just for in-between. It's 2 a.m. on a Saturday night," I said, though I don't know why.

"It's not 2 a.m., it's 12:30, but it feels like 2 a.m. It's been a long week."

The clerk gathered up my purchases, and I pulled two handled bags off the counter.

"Oh, one more thing," the guy behind the counter wagged nearly-forgotten paper towels at me and began to put them in a third bag.

"No, I'm good," and stretched my hand out to take them and stuff them into the two bags he'd already handed me.

The girl with the blue hair poked at the paper towels.

"I see you got all natural paper towels." She spoke loudly not to me or to the cashier. "Yeah, she's got it." I never made eye contact with the girl with the blue hair.

"She doesn't want to waste any more plastic," she spoke for me.

 

*My new Saturday night tradition. I close every Saturday night and am too amped up to go too sleep until well after 3 or 4 a.m., so I ease into slumber with a couple of Midnight Mimosas. Then I write blog posts.


Wine and Punishment

I'm not proud of this, but yesterday I had the mother of all hangovers. The sort of hangover that reminds you each second of your constant decaying and messy mortality. The kind of hangover where you can't even eat. The one where you wake up still slightly drunk, so you have no idea how unfathomably horrible the rest of your day will be, your trauma building and building as the minutes creep up and punch you in the temples.

The reason for this beast of a hangover is my own idiocy. I'm 34, not 21. And frankly, no one any age should mix the kinds of alcohol I did the other night. White wine and tequila? Champagne and whiskey? Yep, I was that stupid.

And, oh, did I pay. I woke up to the phone ringing. It took me a solid ten minutes to reach the foot of the bed for the phone still in my jacket from the night before, barely alive with 8% battery power. It was work. There was a fire in West Oakland and thus the BART system was unable to take commuters either to or from the East Bay. The opening server was stuck in Berkeley. My boss was calling to see if I could come in early.

I assessed the damage. I decided it wasn't too bad. In retrospect, I was still intoxicated, because I was worse than bad. I just didn't know it yet.

I called back and said I'd be there as soon as I could. Still, I sat in bed a solid fifteen minutes trying to move my limbs to the floor. I was finally able to clothe myself and walk the 6 or so blocks to pick up the 9-Bruno.

Staggering into the sunlight, I dragged my body the length of the five-minute walk with immense effort. Naturally, as soon as I boarded the bus and it began its bumpy route, a crashing wave of nausea rose inside me.

"Are you tired or something?," a man asked me.

"Sir, please don't talk to me right now," I pleaded, and he scooted backwards in his seat.

A vagrant who smelled distinctly of pee took the seat right under where I was standing. I choked back the urge to puke. He asked me if I wanted to buy any menthol singles.

"The very idea makes me want to vomit," I told him honestly, my voice ragged.

"Damn. Okay, then," he said back and left me to sway, my face turning ever greener.

A large man dressed like a woman mercifully got up from a corner seat, which I immediately snagged. I watched a young black man in well-tailored pants and a perfect-fitting sweater board the bus. As he did the driver accelerated and he stumbled, stepping on the foot of a dirty white guy listening to a Walkman and drinking Arizona tea from a tall, hot pink can.

"You stepped right on my toe!," the white guy yelled.

"That's why I said excuse me," replied the black man.

Then the white guy began to shout, but the black man quickly eclipsed him with his own shouting of, "Don't TRY ME. Don't TRY ME. Don't TRY ME," until the white guy was quiet.

When the driver stopped to give a passenger bus route information the white guy turned his annoyance toward her. "JUST DO YOUR FUCKING JOB, LADY, AND DRIVE THE BUS. YOUR JOB IS NOT TO ARGUE."

I put my head in my hands.

I then heard more arguing from the front: "Fuck you!" 

"No, fuck you!"

I looked up from trying to hold it together to see two senior women, each well above the age of 70, in a shouting match with one another.

"Is that...two old people yelling?," a teenaged girl asked her mother, who was wagging her head at the entire scene. "Yep," she replied. And then the teenaged girl mused about what the world is coming to.

Even more verbal fights erupted before I dismembarked and 5th and Market. With lead legs I lumbered through the crowd. The sous chef and another cook stood at the doors smoking cigarettes. They laughed as they saw me coming.

"One foot in front of the other, Brittney. You can do it," one of them cheered.

And I did do it. I waited tables, albeit few of them--BART being down really cut into our lunch business--then went home and napped, trying to rally for an art show I promised I'd attend. And I did go, but had to bail after just half an hour. 

The moral of this story is: Don't be a complete moron like me. And that even if a hangover commute makes for a good story, your liver asks that you consider the consequences. Which? So very not worth it.


Hey, You Wanna Hear a Good Story?

Eve Batey and Justin Beck were very nice to ask me to talk to them about why I decided to leave social media as a career and go back to waiting tables and writing. The conversation was recorded for their media podcast Punching Down. 

Eve and Justin came all the way to me in the Mission, and Justin even brought beer. And not cheap Miller, neither. 

It only took one Day Beer to get my big mouth moving. 

You can listen to me talk Nashville is Talking, what happened after I flounced out of WKRN in a huff, how my work translated in San Francisco, how taking that job in New York was a mistake and why after a short stint in San Jose I said, "Fuck it. I'll just wait tables and write."

Hear all that stuff here.