We stopped at San Francisco on our way to Sidney. Another purgatory echo-chamber, but I didn’t mind. We were supposed to be there for 9 hours and were both really tired after a cramped flight across the continent, so there was no real impetus to do anything else. However, there was still a desire in the back of my mind to actually ‘go’ to San Fran, to see the sights. You can’t say you went to a place if you stay in the Airport. Airports are their own country, culturally sterile. The Muzak of Mozart.
Almost miraculously, my thoughts were answered with a passing remark from a ticket agent after answering a bunch of our queries. He bid us farewell to walk about for 8 more hours, and as we walked away I heard him say.
To me this ‘or’ symbolized a new adventure that was waiting for us. I instantly decided in my mind to say yes to whatever he said next, and boy was it the right choice.
He suggested we buy some tickets for the BART (Sanfran’s rail system) and take it to Powell station to have lunch in the core of the city. It was incredible to be in an American city. It felt so much more real than the airport. I was actually in the city. Car horns, cablecars. Grit and graffiti. I fist-bumped a one-legged homeless guy in a wheelchair with an American flag coming out the back. We walked into a local cafeteria-style resturaunt. I got a steak and a coffee.
So this all sounds pretty idyllic, and it was. It broke up our stay in the airport and was a total adventure that was basically dropped in our hands. However, as I was walking down the street, I felt the rumbling gut-surge of diarrhea. I knew why too. Spicy Chinese followed by about 20 hours of fasting and feating on protein bars and coffee. I began to walk quicker, stiff-legged. We ducked into the mall and I could feel my composure slipping. This was getting dire. I was in a wasteland of perfume kiosks and artisan chocolatiers and I was going to shit my pants.
Finally the sacred symbol revealed itself. The hieroglyphic man and woman that led to reprieve. I waddled towards sanctuary, turned a corner and- another long hallway with ‘bathroom’ at the end. I turned the second corner, another long-ass hallway. A painful comedy. I finally got to the mens, and… every stall was taken. I had this sentence ready in my mind:
“One’a yall better finish up quick ‘for I shit my pants.”
Fortunately, before I had to utter the magic words, a stall freed up and I was able to unleash the kraken.
In retrospect, I guess if I actually would have shit my pants in San Francisco, with a 15 hour flight ahead of me, it would have been a better tail. But I’m glad I didn’t.