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  • Waiting for a ride

Thursday, March 4

Vallejo 6:40 AM Cold – its 44 degrees!

I’m early today. I’ve just joined a Club One gym and am going to see if I can get in a workout before work. So it’s been a mad dash out the door and to the carpool. The rhythm of the commuters on the freeway over here is different – these are the get-to-work-at-8 am people.

It’s a free for all at the carpool line! Not so many cars and the ones that are pulling up for passengers are being stopped by riders walking up to the pickup line. Meanwhile I am standing at the line watching this mess, freezing my ** off and getting antsy about getting to the gym and work on time. It straightens out in a few minutes and the line of cars moves up to where it belongs.

I get into a Jeep – a real, military style Jeep. Square and all no nonsense metal. I’ve heard these are not the safest ride on the freeway; that they tend to be top heavy and tip easily. Oh well, here I am. A faded Jack in the Box head bobbling atop the antenna gives me a sightless stare.

The mirror decor here is a lovely rosary made of tiny shells with a beautiful thick silver cross attached. A can of coke and chapstick await their turn in the drink well next to the driver. I noticed when I got in that this jeep smells like a saloon – it’s not the driver – must be a booze spill somewhere at some happy point.

On the freeway overpass near Richmond a group of demonstrators stands holding a giant sign that says SCHOOLS – NO WAR. Today is a the Day of Action in Defense of Public Education protest by teachers, students and other educators, protesting the cut in funding for California’s educational system. Thousands of demonstrators are expected to make their message heard throughout the state.

The Jeep driver is a friendly fellow with a red mustache. He says he’s been driving every day only recently. Before then sporadically. He’s a San Francisco fireman with a knee injury, so until he has surgery and is recovered he’s on light duty and his hours are more commuter conventional. “This driving is killing me!” he says. We agree it’s a hellish commute. The jeep is noisy and we holler to hear each other.

We discuss the Toyota troubles. “Do you think they’ll bounce back?” I ask. The fireman says it’s not the Toyota corporation he worries about, it’s all the individual dealers and the economy in general that troubles him. A small sedan abruptly cuts in front of us near the bridge approach and the driver mutters under his breath. I say, “what do you expect, it’s a Toyota!”. We both laugh.

The sun is winning against the fog as we cross the bridge at 7:30. We’ve just passed a weary and small flock of magnificent Canadian Geese resting and feeding at the Eastshore marshes near the freeway.

It’s going to be a beautiful day in San Francisco and it looks like I’ll be on time.

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