i was mistaken when i thought that walking through chinatown with crutches would force people to notice me for once. and by notice, i mean somewhat acknowledge my existence. i’m not trying to be racist, but when i walk through chinatown, i feel as if i am wearing an invisible cloak. many a friend here in san francisco have complained to me about the lack of sidewalk respect they receive in chinatown. to which i always reply, “well, it’s because you have on your invisible coat !”
that is seriously what it feels like. it’s the worst on days when it is raining because most of the people walking around stockton street are a good six inches shorter than you are. this means that the sharpest points of their umbrellas are at eye level. it’s not unlike a slalom course. if you put on a pair of skis, you can feel confident that you will place in the top three at the olympics.
so, naturally, with a crutch under each arm, i believed i would receive some level of respect. however, i have found that my crutches only elicit more stares, causing people to stop in their tracks, sometimes with mouths agape. it’s reached a point where i don’t swerve around people, but merely pass through them. and yes, this means that i, more often than not, make unwanted contact with them. this only makes them scowl at me or even yell at me, but since i don’t understand chinese i have yet to feel offended.
this may make me sound like a complete asshole, but really ? i’m just another human walking down a street who happens to have crutches which, in my mind, means i should probably have the right of way.
that said, i have even less respect for taxi drivers in san francisco than i did before i had crutches. after living in new york for four years, finding a taxi was never difficult. if a taxi’s “for hire” light was illuminated they would always stop for you. they would every so often decline my request for a ride if i was requesting a lift to JFK, but other than that, they’d always pick me up.
here in san francisco, you are hard pressed to find an open cab. they are few and far between. so you have two choices when trying to find a cab here :: you can expect to wait patiently at a corner with your arm raised until your hand grows cold because the blood has been drained from it. or you can call one. either way, good luck.
armed with a pair of crutches, i thought that my chances of catching a cab would be higher. lies.
in san francisco, if you attempt to hail a cab that has its “for hire” light on (therefore available), it will swerve, switch lanes, and get as far from you as possible. if you are on crutches, your chances of finding a cab are exactly the same. today, i attempted to hail six cabs, all with their i’m available lights illuminated. and all six times i was rejected. five of them blatantly passed me by regardless of the fact that i was waving one of my crutches in the air, hoping that they would stop for me out of pity if for no other reason. the one cab that flashed its lights at me as if to say, “i’m stopping for you” .. instead of picking up me and my crutches, picked up two business men who just barely beat me to the door of the cab.
did i confront the suits and the driver ? of course i did. but they didn’t care. the suits climbed into the back of the cab and the driver switched off his light and drove away. leaving me with my mouth open and jaw only inches from the pavement.
and as for calling a cab ? it’s a complete crap shoot. sometimes they show, but most of the time they don’t. you need to leave at least a twenty minute window for them to arrive, but always assume they won’t show.
the best part about crutches ? i’ll let you know when i discover it. so far they have afforded me a week off from work. a week that i didn’t want to take, but needed to take. the silver lining ? i did start a new series of paintings. i’ve also developed an addiction for Holbein’s Acryla-Gouache. so despite the unfriendly people who “share” the sidewalk with me and the cab drivers who ignore me, i’ve got some kick ass paintings in the works and that totally overrides the complaints mentioned above. but it’s fun to complain, it certainly does help to pass the time.