First, a little house cleaning: I've fixed the day counts from the last couple of days. Everything should be sequential now, with no "Day 44" repeats.
Getting to Jack's Bar & Lounge would seem a simple task, or so you'd think.
- Get off train.
- Check out interesting people (and look for beautiful women, to be honest) exiting train.
- Smell the air for familiar and unfamiliar scents -train exhaust and perfume- and to check the temperature and any hints at the state of the weather; also pinch ears shut as you walk on the island between two loud-as-thunder trains idling on either side of you before you make it to the ramp and exit tunnel that leads under the islands and to the train station proper.
- Walk down the ramp, trying to keep up with the flow of people (why in such a hurry?), listen for the click-click-click of someone walking a bicycle close behind you (jerks, they're supposed to wait), then back up the ramp into the heart of the train station; continue watching people (do I recognize anyone from this morning - if yes, are they in the same mood?) and checking out the women.
- Exit the train station and walk to the truck, dodging buses (God if even one of those bus drivers ever loses it then we're all of us dead), cars zipping in as though they were being driven by valets eager for a good tip --when really it's just the husband or wife or significant other of a fellow train-goer who also happens to be rushed-- then unlock the door to my totally awesome, smells-like man truck once I reach it.
- Drive to the best bar on the North American continent: Jack's Bar & Lounge.
Aha! Not so!
For today I was running on empty. The little, yellow-orange "you're about to run out of gas, you fool!" light blinked on as soon as I started my glorious truck. No problem, I thought, I'll just drive to the gas station on Coleman. I fished for my wallet inside my backpack, took it out and it felt pretty light. I opened it and found no debit card inside, no gas card inside and no cash inside.
This is my I'm not in charge of the nuclear weapons.
What to do, though? I looked up from my belongings in the passenger seat of my truck and searched the facade of apartments on the other side of the train tracks for an answer, but all the hanging signage encouraged me to do was take out a lease that I couldn't afford.
I cursed myself for idling my about-to-run-out-of-gas truck while my brain searched for a solution at far fewer cycles per second than my computer runs at home, put my truck in reverse and backed out of my space.
Another curse escaped my mouth: as I pulled out of the parking lot onto Cahill I found myself at the wrong end of a line consisting of five cars and a bus, all waiting for the light at Santa Clara Street to turn green. The big screen signage on the Shark Tank distracted me and I didn't discover that the low-fuel light had gone away until we got the green arrow and I turned left on Santa Clara.
Hrmm...maybe I could make it to the bank? I resolved to drive to the WAMU-turned Chase [i.e., the "we suck at banking and lose your deposits in our ATMs" Chase - with apologies to any Chase employees reading] at the Coleman shopping center, then either drive (if the gas gods smiled on me) or hoof it to the Valero gas station further up Coleman.
Down the hill and under the train tracks bridge, then back up and a quick right turn onto Stockton Avenue. I panicked for a second as the warning light came right back on when I went down that hill and it stayed on for half my trip up Stockton, but then the light went away and thankfully none of the street lights intercepted me before I made it to Taylor.
I hit the CD player and punched up some Lamb of God. Things always go better with Lamb of God.
Once at the bank, I parked on as flat a surface as I could find and went inside. I felt silly not having a debit card, but my ID served well enough and I got to fill out a withdrawal slip for the first time in awhile. All of the women behind the counter were extremely pretty and helpful. Way better than an ATM experience, I decided.
Cash in hand, I returned to my thirsty truck, apologized to it as I got in the driver's seat and promised we'd get it something to drink if it would only take us both far enough up the street to the gas station.
The wait at the Taylor and Coleman light was the single longest wait for a light to change I've ever experienced, or so it seemed. The no-gas light was back on and seemed to glow even brighter. Unwelcome questions came to mind as my eyes darted back and forth, pacing the cars going by in the intersection and tracking the cycles of the stoplights: Did I really just sit through an entire playing of Redneck? If my truck died, could I push it the rest of the way? Did I even have a spare tank to put gas in?
Traffic stopped flowing left-right and right-left in front of me and I took my foot off the brake in anticipation....
....then slammed my foot back down again so I wouldn't hit the unmoving vehicle in front of me. People waiting for the fucking left turn arrow get to go first, after all.
After that traffic cycled through, the light turned green and I gingerly pressed down on the gas pedal (my truck is a Toyota, but I'm not part of the gas pedal recall, thank God). A few short moments later and I was at the gas station, woohoo!
My rejoicing was short lived, though. I was forced to sit half in and half out of the street, waiting for a completely full gas station to sort itself out while I blocked an ever-growing line of traffic behind me.
Fuck! My! Life! Running out of gas this close to my goal would suck beyond all comprehension, but would also be kind of funny.
Thankfully the person in front of me finished executing her sixteen point turn (it seemed like sixteen turns, but might have only been four) and got the hell out of the way. I pulled into her spot, turned my truck off and went to go pay the cashier.
Two blocks from Jack's on Taylor, I saw Mr. McBride walking up the street. I wondered if he would be going to Jack's, but he ducked into one of the corner liquor stores.
The cones in front of Happi House had rearranged themselves again, this time forming a tight path barely wide enough to fit my truck through. I parked at Happi House, gave The Rock a withering, it's-your-fault-I-almost-ran-out-of-gas look, then walked across the street to the bar under a flat sheet of iron-grey clouds.
I stepped inside to the sound of Tanisha working through a fit of coughing; the kind that sounds like someone's sick with a cold. I sat down amongst the seven men and two women at the bar, never making eye contact with her, yet she insta-served me a beer. Fucking awesome.
I told her I hope she got to feeling better. As time went by in the bar I noticed she never coughed again so it was probably something she drank as opposed to a cold. Oh well, my sentiments were sincere.
There was only one person sitting at the back-wall tables, a man whom I didn't get a good look at save to learn his attention seemed to be on the flat screen TV closest to the front entrance of the bar. I followed his line of sight and found myself observing the results of the USA vs. Norway hockey game at the Olympics (have fun, Jordan). We slaughtered Norway, 6 - 1.
Beneath the flat screen sat a couple I recognized, but whose names I forgot. I tend to see them only when Tanisha is working and they're always very nice and friendly. I've spoken to the man before about Hockey, but didn't do much more than say hello to him from across the bar tonight.
Of the four remaining TVs, three had college hoops on and one had Super Bowl replays. My attention was drawn to the later because the replay showed a balloon crash at the start of Super Bowl IV between the Chiefs and the Vikings. Some dude in a viking helmet chased his errant balloon across the field, then jumped into it just before it ran into one corner of the stadium.
I'd written, "lolz no nipples were exposed in the crashing of his balloon" into my phone at some point during the replay, but I can't remember why.
The Olympics coverage switched over to curling (I know too much about curling now) and I saw that the scowling bottle of Patron Orange that sat on the center shelf overlooking the bar had been turned around. It seemed far less fierce now that the logo was showing.
A plastic bottle of Organic Original Green Leaf Sweat Tea sat on one of the rubber serving mats directly in front of me at the bar. Must be Tanisha's, I thought.
The bar-goers sampled pink tequila and bought rounds of Gentlemen Jack's and Woodford Reserve. Outside the clouds had darkened and stubbornly refused to let any sunset light get past them. It simply got dark outside, without any real transition from day to night.
The air smelled good as it flowed into the bar. Not long after Jason arrived and ordered not a Red Stripe (his usual) but a Jack and coke.
This prompted a friendly "WTF?" from Tanisha, which caused the female half of the couple on the short side of the bar to ask, "What does WTF mean?"
Adults live such sheltered lives.
Jason shrugged and went back outside. My beer done, I grabbed my coat and put it on as I walked outside, chuckling inwardly and not waiting to hear Tanisha's explanation. Jason was already on his phone so I sort of half-waved/said hello to him as I walked under very dark clouds to my truck, then drove home.
See you on Friday for a much less stressful trip to Jack's!