Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Walk Home

After work today, I walked straight to the train station half a block away, but then realized I’d left my wallet in my gym bag at home. After digging through my bag, I was only able to scrounge up two quarters. A MUNI ticket is $1.50. I thought I’d call the husband and swing by his office to borrow the buck fifty from him, but then I discovered I’d also left my cell phone in my gym bag. I didn’t want to show up at his office unannounced because he’s on the 10th floor, behind a locked door. It would just cause too much confusion for me to go up there and ring the bell. If they weren’t expecting anybody, they might not even answer. So I decided to walk home.

A jaunt of any length through San Francisco inevitably offers a study on homelessness, but a walk of the length I took yesterday offers a study of greater depth. On every block along Market Street, I passed people who have made the streets their home. They were napping, pushing shopping carts, harassing shoppers, staggering, screaming or playing cards. Every open public space such as a park, a fountain, or a plaza was completely overtaken by the homeless. I was beginning to feel tired as I walked past the main library. I’d just spent one of my quarters on a nectarine at the UN Plaza farmer’s market; I thought it would be nice to sit on one of the concrete benches that line the library and enjoy my fruit. Once there, though, I noticed that the only available spots would have me flanked on both sides by vagrants, and what seemed to be the rowdy type. I kept walking.

In all, I walked 2.72 miles, a typical New York stroll. With these hills, though, it feels longer.

Despite the multitude of homeless, I quite enjoyed the walk. I haven’t worked my legs like that in a long time. There is something so exhilarating about long walks like that. It somehow feels constructive, like you’re really accomplishing something as you move forward, watching your surroundings change along the way.

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