It was a Tuesday, much like any other Tuesday. Filled with hopes and dreams after the depression that was Monday, but still lacking the joy of a camel on Wednesday. Nevertheless, dawn broke and employment beckoned. So, I got up, showered, dressed and joined the commute to work. This was the day the BART strike ended, but there weren’t many trains running in the morning. Thusly I drove. Amazingly enough, nothing memorable happened on the way to the office. When I drive, I park on the street (surely you know this and the parking Nazi at 229 Harrison St.), but then I climb some stairs and take a sky bridge over the train tracks to my office.
Our story will start at lunch.
I decided that lunch should be consumed about 12:30 or so. I grabbed my book and made my way to Chop Bar for lunch. I eat there at least once a week and would eat there more if my diet didn’t prohibit me from my previous lusty relationships with their Reuben and Hamburger. But, at least they have two different salads that allow me to believe I’m eating both healthy and (marginally) decadently.
We may be different you and I, but when I sit at the counter by myself I like to leave an open seat on either side. It probably goes back to relatively large size and not wanting to encroach on other people’s space. Or have them in mine. I don’t like strangers in my space. Especially, on BART. So I took a seat one to the right of the couple talking. She was on my left and he was on her left.
As I opened my copy of The Republic of Thieves, I quickly realized this couple was not a couple. I saw that there was an open seat between them, but the real eye- opener was his voice. Gravelly like a rock quarry and grating like brake calipers with worn pads, he was trying too hard to hit on the woman next to him. He was 3 or 4 beers into drinking his lunch and she was scarfing down the last few bites so she could escape. “Good,” I thought, “it will make it much easier to read my book.”
I enjoyed roughly 5 minutes of peace when another woman walked in and took the same seat. She ordered a drink and set up her iPad for use. And then it started. Reading became difficult and soon reading became a charade. This was entertaining.
“Is your accent fake? It seems like it.”
He wasn’t happy with that question. He was from New York and New Yorkers sound like him. How could she not know? Turns out she was from upstate New York, so he belittled her for that.
“Is Yiddish your first language?” I couldn’t really believe she asked that.
“Why would you say that!” he raged as though she called his mother a whore.
“My Husband’s Jewish. You look Jewish.”
From there he attacked her naiveté. And then he got to the fact that he has triple citizenship: US, Italy and **gasp** Israel. If this guy is Jewish, I many consider converting. I’ve always thought the Hare Krishnas were on to something. If G-d wants me in heaven, he needs me to have a ponytail to pull on, right?
Let’s be honest: he was an asshole and she seemed to one of the people who help keep the average IQ at 100. Not stupid, but she’s not in line for a Nobel Prize or finishing the Times Crossword Puzzle any time soon.
By now she’s flustered and her food arrives. She asks for a to-go box and gets out of there quickly, though he is still trying to engage her. 3 minutes after she leaves, he leaves.
At this point I’m the only one at the counter. I’ve probably read 5 pages. I’ll never finish this book (I did). I notice the staff gathering at the other end of the counter buzzing about what happened. I wait a moment. When one looks my way I say “if you want to know what happened I’ll tell you.”
They had missed most of the conversations and thought he was nice. I dissuaded them of that opinion. We all had a good a laugh and I went from the guy who comes in all the time to marginally more than that. Good thing I can chat with some of them about Game of Thrones. Yeah, I know a bit about that.
A weird experience: a bit annoying and ending with a laugh. Not bad for lunch. But for Tuesday? Nope. There’s more. So much more.
I tried to leave about 5pm, but silly little things kept cropping up and it was just after 6 when I was able to head to the elevator and make my way to my car. Since I drove, I get off on 2, say goodnight to the guard (yeah, our building has the guard on 2) and walk across the sky bridge towards my car. Straight across is the parking structure for the building and there is a large apartment complex to the left.
Being the observant buy I am, I scan the building to my left (It’s called The Bond, in case you care.) Not expecting to see much I looked and saw too much. I stopped and gathered myself. FUCK! I didn’t know what to do. On one hand I’m appalled. On the other I’m shocked. I turn and walked back to the guard at the desk.
“Uh, can you call the cops for me?” I stammered.
The young guard looked and me quizzically.
“Not 911. It’s not an emergency, but there is a naked man masturbating in the window across the street. I really don’t think the women of the building want to see that.”
And by naked man, I’m guessing 6” 375lbs. He’s got a substantial and firm gut. I really shouldn’t know this much.
I’m all for letting consenting adults do whatever they want in the privacy of their own homes, but nothing about this event was private. It was meant to be a spectacle. I figured I should do something about it. I don’t want to be guy who did nothing. That’s too easy and too wrong.
The guard pulls up the camera on that side if the building and, nope, it stops right below his window. He believes me but doesn’t know what to do. He radios his coworker. The coworker won’t talk on the radio and insists they talk on the phone.
When he gets off the phone, he tell me that since it is not in our building he can’t do anything, including calling the cops for me.
Seriously? I might have been shaking with anger when I left. So much for doing the right thing.
Years ago, when I worked in the Financial District in San Francisco a coworker caught a guy trying to steal his wallet from his jacket. The jacket was behind his office door. We were on a locked floor in a secure building. This guy was in a ratty suit. If you glanced, he looked like he belonged in the office. If you looked, you could see the suit was threadbare and his shoes had holes in them. I came when hell yelled for me and we escorted the thief to the guard downstairs.
When we got there, the Guard shrugged, the thief bolted out the door. We looked to the guard who calmly said, “I didn’t see him do anything, I can’t do anything. There’s too much personal liability and I’m not allowed to.”
That’s when I learned the cameras in the elevators were props and building security is an oxymoron in most cases.
Back in the present, I walked back out of the building and about 10 minutes had passed . The Wanker, as I was calling him in my head, was still at it, although off to the side, rather than front and center. As I crossed the street, I realized the light was on in the lobby of his building. I walked across to the building and knocked on the window for the desk person to let me in.
I was probably a bit disjoined as I explained what the problem was. She looked at me like I was nuts. I asked if she was going to do anything. Clearly she couldn’t use the “it’s not my building” excuse.
“We got a call about that earlier,” she said.
“Oh.” I started to leave. And then I stopped.
“When did you get that call?” I asked.
“Seriously? It’s still going on! Don’t you think this is a bigger problem than that?”
Then she told me in effect that it was none of my business.
I left there madder than a hatter. No wonder people don’t speak up more often and try to help; doing the right thing can be aggravating when others prevent you from doing anything.
Oh, and he was jerking off, fully naked, in the window again Wednesday after work. I still see him in the window most nights, but now he stays a few steps back and has at least a shirt on. I doubt that will last.