Sunday, September 23, 2007

Chance Encounters

I love living in San Francisco, one of the more densely populated neighborhoods in one of the more densely populated cities in the country. One of the best things about it is all of the random encounters I have with people. I've lived here a long time, so I have a lot. I thought I'd share the random encounters I've had in the last week or so.

On the 33 Stanyan. I had a cold and was feeling kind of discombobulated, but there was something sort of familiar about the lady sitting a couple rows in front of me, talking to friends and holding some shopping bags. As I was getting off, we made eye contact, and I realized it was Mrs. M, who lives at the housing complex where I used to be a social worker. I told her it was great to see her, and asked about her family. Her answer was very careful: "Your, my family is very good."

A long time ago, I had a crazy coworker at the housing complex who was very threatened by me (and many other people). Mrs. M's son's car was hit by someone in the garage, and my coworker accused me of doing it. She demanded that I back up my car in order to prove I couldn't have hit his car. I refused. For years after that I was mortified to think that the family thought I might hit their car and lie about it. The coworker was eventually fired after she asked another staff member to withhold my paycheck from me.

Downtown. I had just been to the dentist, was incredibly hungry, and was also struggling with the aforementioned cold. While considering which restaurant to go into, I ran into N, who I've known for more than ten years but only run into every three years or so. N was (maybe still is) a friend of an ex-boyfriend, and I attended his wedding, which was held at the Castro Theatre. At that time, the man I would eventually marry was working at the Castro, and helped said ex to hook N up with the wedding venue. I, however, didn't know my now-husband at all. Within a couple of years of his wedding, N got divorced, which saddened and surprised me.

The next night, I went to a party, and N was there. It turned out that he was in the same Burning Man camp as the host. He wrote me an email after that and said that my husband seemed like a "solid bloke."

On the K Line. I saw another resident from my former job in housing. She is a manicurist in a salon next to the Castro Theatre, and I run into her every few months. She is always delighted to see me--once, a few months ago, she said, "I love you, Linda," when we saw each other in the Castro. I jumped up and sat down next to her.

She asked me if I had a baby yet. That told me that she understood our last conversation, in which I told her that my husband and I were adopting. I wasn't totally sure. I told her that we might have a baby soon, maybe in October. I wondered what the other passengers were thinking, and changed the subject to her three kids. She told me that they are all in graduate school now, only she didn't say that, she called it "more school after college." I kind of got a shiver of joy. She and her husband emigrated from Vietnam, worked in very low-paying jobs, had so little in the way of resources, and their three kids are all in graduate school!

On Guerrero Street. I ran into my friend Steven, who was shopping at a garage sale. He said he was out perusing garage sales and getting coffee. I felt like I got a glimpse into his weekend routine. He asked me where I was striding to so purposefully. In fact, I was going to pick up my City CarShare car, to go grocery shopping, and I was running a bit late. He asked where I was going, and I named Costco as one of my stops. He told me that his dentist had advised him to get a certain kind of electric toothbrush, and asked me to see if it was in stock at Costco. I programmed his number into my cell phone, which I had just gotten the day before. Later, I called him from Costco to say they didn't have it.

Thanks to Jamison for the Muni image.


Margie in Oakland said...

Wow. That's a lot of random meetings. I sometimes run into people but debate whether or not to say anything...hmmm.

Sarah Goss said...

This makes me think of how Mark bumped into both you and his old friend John again at a peace rally in SF. But that's not really a chance encounter, since it could be seen that you guys might be there. Mark has had a million more chance encounters in SF, though, with people he used to know in high school... he should be contributing to the discussion!