March 13, 2005
As I waited for the train to come in to Santa Barbara, bearing a Green Hills recruit for me to usher through the gauntlet of the interview weekend (we went sailing!), an elderly woman walked by, folded up her umbrella, sat down, lit a cigarette, and began to speak. It wasn’t raining.
Until she arrived, I had been reading a book about colonizing Mars, but I put it down when she began to talk.
Until she spoke, I had also been unaware of the vicious gang warfare down on the mean streets of Santa Barbara. They accost you, she said. It’s getting to be so you can’t take a walk down town, anymore. And they even come into businesses, she says. They throw “S-H-I-T” she spelled. She was animated. There were hand gestures.
Imagine my surprise. Imagine the shattering of my illusions. Imagine the deftness with which I inched my way off the other side of the bench and, grinning all the while, pretended my cellphone had rung.