Tag Archives: cable cars

the laundromat (take two)

i complained about discussed the laundromat once before on this blog. if you’ve read that post, you’ll have a very clear understanding as to why i hate it as much as i do. regardless, tonight’s post has very little do with that place. the laundromat was merely a vessel this evening, a vessel that steered me in the direction of the Cable Car Museum. this museum is half a block from my house. one of my roommates once counted how many steps our front door is from that museum and i believe the count was one hundred and eighty one (if memory serves).

this probably explains why tourists flock to our particular street corner(s). that and the fact that the cable car stops directly outside of my front door (literally). it is the stop for Chinatown. at this stop they yell, “this stop, Chinatown, two blocks, straight ahead” and point in the direction of Grant street, east of Powell street by exactly two blocks. i really don’t mind tourism and sightseeing and the like. but when you are barely awake at eight something in the morning and heading for work, the last thing you feel like dealing with is a gaggle of strangers/tourists on your doorstep (a.k.a. sidewalk outside of your apartment). it’s not always crowded, but i swear on some grave somewhere that whenever i am grumpy/excessively sleepy/or something all around blah, that’s when the crowd is gathered on the sidewalk outside of my building.

they stand there like a herd of cattle, looking around for instructions from other people (or maybe the heavens?) to tell them what to do next, regardless of the fact that the man on the cable car pointed, very obviously, in one direction towards Chinatown while yelling, “two blocks, straight ahead!” my roommate’s bay windows overlook this very fiasco which is why i know it so well. we love to watch from his windows and admire the lost people below. my former roommate would sometimes interject during this moment of silence, when they had just disembarked from the cable car, and yell once again “CHINATOWN! TWO BLOCKS! STRAIGHT AHEAD!” with his thick Italian accent. and we’d all bend over in stitches from laughing so hard. the poor tourists below looked at us like we were vermon, which would only make us laugh harder. i suppose it was one small way we could retaliate against the crowds on the sidewalk and the non-stop clanging of the cable car bells at weird hours of the night.

so, this evening, i was at the god forsaken laundromat throwing my clothes into one of the dryers. i had a large pair of headphones on while i was listening to the soundtrack from the movie Amelie. if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll understand why i was inspired to do what i did next (and if you haven’t seen the movie, stop reading this immediately and watch it now).

i walked across the street to the Cable Car Museum. it was closed, but some of the old and very aged windows were not. and some of the lights inside were still on. and the machines were still pumping their gears. i watched from the outside, mesmerized by the mechanical workings going on within. it felt as if i were staring at a beating heart – watching all those valves and springs work in unison to pump the necessary gases and liquids and what-have-yous to where they needed to be in order to keep things running smoothly. my face lit up and i felt a smile grow on my lips. i knew what i had to do.

i ran home, feeling inspired.

i went to my desk and, using a ballpoint pen, wrote a simple note (in a bold hand written cursive font) on a piece of white paper. it read,

“love and let love.”

i ran back to the Cable Car Museum and placed this note in one of the open windows, next to an old can of soda sitting on the same window sill. upon that note i placed a small white plastic sheep (maybe one inch tall). i hope that someone finds that tomorrow and smiles. i think i might just keep going back there every week to deliver kind messages. i don’t see why not.




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the painful details & thoughts on cable cars

as promised, here is the rest of my story. i won’t call it ‘part deux’ because it’s not really related to my previous post about flying cats and teaching my ‘driver’ how to drive my car.

before i go on, i have to tell you a little secret: IT’S RAINING HERE RIGHT NOW. having just moved from Seattle i felt that that weather report was somehow significant. i’m sure a day will come when i am in San Francisco when a rainfall will not seem so absurd. i know that it rains here, of course. but today marks my one week ‘anniversary’ arriving in this fair city and i was not expecting to see rain until, you know, November or something. so for all you haters out there (i’m mainly speaking to those in Seattle who, only upon receiving my text last weekend declaring that it was “80 degrees and sunny!,” replied to me with ‘f*** you’ or ‘i hate you’), well now that i think about it.. to all you haters out there, i’m sorry, ok? stop doing your wicked rain dances up there.. please ?

so i live very near to Chinatown on what is called Nob Hill. yes, i know. get your laughs out now, i’ll wait.. are you finished ? i’m more or less sidled up against chinatown, a bit north of union square (which is a major tourist and shopping hub), and only about a mile south of pier 39 which is the main fisherman’s wharf that tourists flock to like pigeons flock to bread crumbs. the best part about pier 39 is the seals. yes, barking seals on the docks. barking seals who are not even remotely afraid of people or crowds. i was down there last weekend for an airshow – it was fleet week in the city and the blue angels were in town and so on and so forth. the airshow was fabulous, but i still can’t stop thinking about all those barking seals. seriously. if you go to the fisherman’s wharf for any reason, may it be because of the barking seals.

Chinatown is fun and an interesting place to live next to. i’m merely a block away from the main drag of shops and dim sum restaurants (all of them claiming to be the best dim sum in the city). of course i’m well versed with Chinatowns (don’t forget i lived in New York City for four years), but i’ve never lived so close to one. what i do live right next to, nay, basically on is one of the cable car routes in the city. those cable cars with tourists falling out the sides. and apparently cable cars do not stop when going around corners (safety hazard, no ? at least it’s forcing me to turn my head left and right when i cross the street) and even once the cars have passed by the tracks continue to rattle and buzz. i was informed that this was merely mechanical, but i am under the impression that i will be electrocuted if i step on the tracks. so if you ever come to San Francisco and you happen to be in Chinatown riding a cable car and you see some girl with oversized granny glasses leaping through the air as she crosses the street and skillfully avoiding the tracks on the ground – that’s probably me. i guess being in Chinatown makes me somewhat of a minority, so i probably look like a tourist, so leaping over tracks on the ground may not seem as peculiar to the people around me as they sigh and likely think to themselves, “stupid tourist.”perhaps Chinatown was a good pick for me considering my understandable fear of cable car tracks. oh, and lest i forget my passion for Chinese food. i’ve taken the liberty of cutting myself off from such a delicacy except for twice a month when i will allow myself to fall victim to its msg marinated deliciousness.

and i’m not kidding when i say that tourists are falling out the sides of those cable cars. they sometimes appear, at least to me, to be holding on for their lives as these cars careen around turns and fly down hills. first of all, there are car-cars everywhere and i swear, a foot too far out of that cable car is liable of getting severed. it’s much like a ride in an amusement park that warns you to: ‘Ride At Your Own Risk.’ in fact, i’m not sure why they don’t have some warning label of the like on the side of these cars. however, it does make schlepping up and down some extremely steep hills (another very serious fear of mine: i will, one day, topple from the top of nob hill and not stop rolling until i reach the bottom) far more entertaining when you make bets in your own head, like i do, on who will fall out of that car first.

three less amusing observations about these cable cars: 1.) when perched at the top of the hill they are about to glide down – the tourists feel it necessary to scream (and yes, some even take it upon themselves to throw their hands in air) like one screams upon approaching a steep decent on a roller coaster. this gets really really annoying after about the third time you hear it. i’ve taken to glaring at passengers when they do this and imagining them without their feet. 2.) living on the route means we (my three roommates and i) are subjected to the DING DING DING-A-LING of the bells on these cars. i thought the dinging was random until i realized that it is actually all manual. some poor schmuck has to work on the back of those cars ringing a bell all day and he has to be creative, too. coming up with new and different ding-a-lings regularly. i admire his creativity and his gusto, it’s just a shame that sound travels so well and we hear this ringing all the time. which brings me to my third observation.. 3.) these cars never stop. for a city in which things tend to die down around 10pm, unless it is a weekend, you’d think this tourist activity would also die down. i mean, aren’t they all in their fancy hotels sleeping at 3:00am? if not, they are surely too drunk to even consider taking a cable car back to their hotel – that’s what cabs are for. cabs are for drunk people and the airport.  but these cable cars, they go around all night long ringing their damn bells. i had to invest in a pair of ear plugs and having lived in NYC for four years i thought i considered myself quite tolerant of all city sounds. in fact, i love city sounds. i didn’t even hate the drunk people who would randomly and rather regularly go around hitting my buzzer at all hours of the night when i lived in the east village.

but, i am not actually complaining. i am very happy here and it’s things like those cable cars that are only making this more of an amusing adventure and will, no doubt, provide me with a plethora of good stories to tell. i forgot how great living in a city can be and all the crazy people that you may think are homeless – are actually your neighbors. i’m not even being sarcastic, i find comfort in things like that.

[iPhone camera][google images]


p.s. using my iPhone of late for picture taking as my camera is still in Seattle. honestly ? i didn’t forget my camera. i purposefully left it behind because of the chaos in my car – i was terrified it’d be broken by the time i got down to California. i will be reunited with it very soon, though !


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