Back in the Saddle

I am being difficult. That’s because things are difficult. And I find it difficult to be otherwise.

Take my recent ‘van breakdown.’ Nothing actually broke down, making a difficult situation, more difficult. The most difficult thing proved to be collecting the car from its repair site in Fremont. You will recall that this van has no driver’s seat. So no one can drive it to me. And with my car currently in the repair garage, I have no van to drive.

‘Can’t you get here?’ This from Access Options, redoubtable provider of vans customized for disabled drivers. Over 20 years, I have purchased two vans through them. They know what they’re doing.  Which was why this morning’s conversation seemed so strange.

How, I asked, do other disabled drivers get there…without their cars? We continued to go around in circles. Can someone drive me? Meaning, don’t I have a friend with a similar ramp-equipped disabled van? No, I said.

As for meeting me at the nearest subway station well, they don’t do that sort of thing. I pointed out that all this was much easier at their previous location, only blocks away from a tram station. Access Options is only accessible to the adjacent motorway…again, to deliver a disabled vehicle and wait while it gets repaired.

In the end, I had it towed back to San Francisco. No, the auto club wouldn’t do it. Fine. I found a towing company in Fremont. What’s money..when you’re remodeling a house in San Francisco?

Shortness, prickliness, impatience…being difficult…lay it on, I say – and try to be conscious.

I met the towing guy in the lot across from Glen Park station. My van, it turned out, hadn’t been towed, but transported on a truck with a ramp. The driver tilted the latter down and rolled my wheels back into action. I rolled inside, thinking action myself. The problem, after all, had to do with a low battery, the consequence of not driving enough. Very well. I set out to remedy that, proceeding directly away from the station, up the hill and, what the hell, turning right. Having not driven in several days, and my driving confidence being less than robust, it was not heartening to see myself once again at the brink of a street-cliff. This led to the actual park of Glen Park, I could see that. Mostly it led over the edge, my torso straining to stay vertical. I inched down the hill, convinced that at any second my foot would give way. The latter may be less than rational, but there you have it.

Thrilled at my survival, I carried on. Now up my street, over the hill into Noe Valley, then around the latter. I drove here. I drove there. Perhaps I would stop at Walgreens, pick up some shampoo. No. Not one parking place. Maybe park in the lot further down 24 Street? No. Not happening. So, I drove back, passing a very attractive looking café. Couldn’t hurt to park, have a cappuccino. But the place turned out to be a restaurant. A roll around another neighborhood. Back in the van, and home. I parked without hand signals from my wife. Got the ramp down.

And got inside as the maritime winds begin howling up our street.Earlier, it had been a warm day.

The fog is back.
The sun is gone.
San Francisco moving on.

At 68, I am moving on most aggressively. My eyesight isn’t what it was. Nothing is. Including my reflexes. Driving is scary. And everything…only some of it on the streets…is coming at me faster than I would like. It’s scary. It’s tiring. It’s my life.

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