Market and Ninth

Nothing on Friday turned out as I expected it would. It should therefore be no wonder my determination to submit a post on Friday should be delayed until Saturday evening. It might even be funny that it is now actually Sunday morning, and if I don’t get my derriere´ in gear it will be Sunday evening before I finish.

Normally a light day on the calendar, an unexpected number of meetings were on tap for Friday. I got into the office early and was the first on the 7 AM call. I spent the time after to prepare for a 9 AM call with another team for which I did a lot of homework. I’d secured almost $90,000 in hardware funding for them to cover needs that hadn’t been anticipated, but two months had passed and the supporting documentation I’d asked for hadn’t materialized. In the meantime another issue had arisen with ownership of orphaned systems and so I was keen for a discussion. Precisely one minute before the call started, my Microsoft Outlook email client decided it was done for the day and exited without so much as goodbye. My carefully arranged set of windows with my agenda, bullet points, links, names and addresses was replaced by a wide expanse of screen real estate with nary a message window in sight.

I got Outlook re-started and kept the team on the call an extra half-hour. But I had pushed enough buttons to receive calls and emails the rest of the morning asking what I was thinking. Someone once told me they can’t care more than me about decisions affecting my life. I felt that way about this: I needed a plan for the money and if they didn’t come up with one, the money would be gone and they have to deal with whatever situation arose.

By noon I decided I was going to walk partway home. It was sunny but breezy, I was in shirt sleeves, and had The Tech Guy podcast on my iPhone. I usually walk through the crowd at a relaxed pace. but today I actually ran to catch a couple of go pedestrian lights so I would not have to wait at a corner.

So it was pure chance I came onto the windswept intersection of Ninth and Market just as the light was about to unleash the flow of vehicles from the distant Central Freeway into Civic Center. I saw what appeared to be a large brown paper bag in the far end of the crosswalk that spanned the five lanes of traffic. Then I noticed two men running in front of the cars towards it, and then realized it was a person. It turned out to be a 83-year old Chinese woman who had fallen headfirst to the pavement and was too stunned to pull herself up.


Alert, responsive and badly bruised.

Fortune was with her. I and the two men helped her back to the curb. I collected her undamaged glasses, which had fallen on the roadway. I called 911, and stayed with her until paramedics arrived. We just happened to be outside a Walgreen’s and employees from the store brought out an ice pack, a chair and someone who spoke Cantonese. The two guys had left the scene and I wound up giving the only eyewitness account. I felt incredibly sad for her suffering. She had cuts to her forehead, cheekbone, hand and wrist. A large and ugly bruise was developing around her right eye and her nose was dripping blood. She was in all likelihood just out for a walk or a short shopping trip, and now her day was ruined.

Per city practice the SFFD responded first, and the later-arriving ambulance took her away. As I prepared to leave, several tourists walked by and got all excited about the fire engine. One firefighter obliged them by standing in front of it with his arms around the women in the group while another member snapped the shot.

I continued up Market. A train emerged from the Duboce Tunnel and I broke into a run as it made the turn to come down Church Street. I boarded the crowded streetcar and took up a position against the center wall. The bulk of passengers left by the time we arrived at St. Paul’s at Day Street and I took a seat.  The J car goes down the middle of San Jose Avenue after leaving La Lengua, diving under the maze of off and on ramps to Interstate 280, San Jose, Monterey and Wilder streets. A line of cars waited to turn from northbound San Jose into Bosworth; the line in fact stretched from the exit on 280, a quarter mile away. If that wasn’t a clear indication that something was up, all the heavy street-level traffic at my stop and along the two blocks to home was a bigger clue.

I heard later an abandoned suitcase found at the Balboa Park station prompted the shutdown of the station and the streets around it. The crosstown routes of Ocean and Geneva; the streetcar storage and maintenance yards; endpoints for the K, M, and J streetcar lines; five other bus lines; BART and of course all the north and southbound ramps to 280 were toast on a Friday evening commute.

One thing was the same that Friday: The Giants lost their fourth game in a row.


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