“This car was owned by a little old man who only drove it once a day to run errands in his neighborhood.”

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? And if you are selling used cars, and can verify this tale, it’s a perfect pitch. It’s also my reality, these days, if one substitutes ”lunch” for ”errands.” All this occurs to me as I crank up the Dodge and head to Noe Valley, not quite my neighborhood, but the adjoining one. As all my intimates know, I have to keep moving. Moving the car, that is. No sense in getting towed to Fremont.

And if there is any upside to my experience of running out of car battery and losing all the programmed controls, it’s this new expression. Getting towed to Fremont. Yeah, want to buy that suit? Go for it, if you want to get towed to Fremont.

In any case, here I am, driving down our street and already making small mistakes. My foot slips here. It catches under a pedal there. In full disclosure, it takes a few blocks before I am back in the automotive saddle. Which, there’s no disputing, is a fine place to be. Really, this is my freedom, my mobility. Yes, there is plenty of the other transit kind. But you have to put your back into it. Particularly your lower back, the body part most adversely affected by excessive wheelchair sitting. Much to be said for driving.

Even more to be said for parking. Not that I am in a hurry. After all, being a little old man out on a battery-charging mission, the more driving the merrier. So, okay, I see some spaces on 24th Street. I slide past them. As though they aren’t quite what I was looking for. While secretly, I know what’s happening is extremely good for my battery. The latter taking a mythic quality. Much like men of my age concern themselves with what’s good for their prostate. Is driving good for my prostate? What is the relationship, if any, between my prostate and my battery?

While thinking these profound thoughts, damned if there isn’t a real vacant parking space, all bluish and disabled, in 24th St.’s finest parking lot. I am in place, dropping the wheelchair ramp, then dropping myself to the midday ground. My destination is a local eatery. Well, not so terribly local, as it supplies lunches to the Starbucks chain. In fact, it’s owned by Starbucks, which has grand plans to shut the entire chain. One of several reasons that La Boulange is today’s destination. It won’t be tomorrow, as it were.

Note that this 24th St. eatery has an automatic disabled door opener. On these grounds alone, I come here. And there are other grounds. Such as the fact that inside there’s an impressive mixture of people, including many of my era. Of course this is mid day, a time when the thirtysomething workforce is at the office. This doesn’t occur to me. I’m having too much trouble reading the menu, displayed in perfectly adequate type on the wall. I consider several calorie-laden options. I consider some calorically minimal ones. I compromise with a Croque Monsieur. From which no one ever croaked. I always say.

La Boulange not only has a disabled-friendly door, but disabled-friendly tables. It’s all go, or should be. The problem is that these tables happen to be jammed very close to others. And, it must be noted, someone had the foresight to buy these accessible tables. They are intended to be used. If one can get close enough to them to roll under. Which I can’t, not easily. And being chronically afraid of calling attention to my disabled self – you guessed it, I eat at another table. I am old, after all. And so is almost everyone else in this lunch hour crowd. Taking up space is what wheelchairs do, after all.

Across the street, in the local cheese shop, I briefly consider some Sicilian salt-preserved fish roe. Can any sane person really be selling this stuff for $50 a pound? And no sane person is buying it, I maintain. Which, of course, is patently untrue. I head for my car. Lots of battery charging to do.

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