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24 Hours Of Joy

By Jim Kirwan

The Odyssey of a shared Experience.

I just finished a period of genuine ‘Joy’ which was totally unexpected that made the entire experience into a complete surprise!

My ‘family’ is huge, because the families that both parents belonged to had huge numbers of children, who each had large families themselves: Which of course means that all of us have numbers of aunts, uncles, nephews and cousins: All the bits and pieces that loosely bind us all together. When I finally realized the size of that group, back in early nineteen seventies, I cut myself off from them because there were just way too many people to maintain connections with and I was massively busy with three careers and my own problems.

A few weeks ago I got a call from my older sister’s first born daughter who just wanted to talk. This was near the time I was leaving the first 75 years of what passes for my life, so we began to ‘talk’. But that only made it clear that there were many more things that we needed to share, which couldn’t be done long distance. However things being what they are, there was no way that I could travel, and no real way to steal the time just to have a conversation such as the one that we had yesterday.

She delivers brand-new garbage trucks, as a long distance truck driver with an excellent record, around the nation. On Wednesday I got a call from her saying that she might be coming into San Francisco on the evening of Wednesday the fifteenth. “Could we maybe get together for that ‘talk’? I agreed, and she said: “Great I’ll be coming into San Francisco tomorrow”.

Yesterday evening my friend and I met her at the Ferry Building and brought her back to the apartment. I had not seen her since she was very small, which was 56 years ago. She’s 60 now and my friend is 53. Yesterday morning this Odyssey of Discovery actually began.

The three of us could not be more different from each other, just as our individual lives differ from the lives of most other people today.

But there was a lot to catch up with and very little time.

Yesterday morning I set out to show my niece the core of San Francisco. I would need a senior discount ticket to finish off the day, to take her back to SFO, so we tried to start with that. We left Nob Hill passed thru the Tenderloin and the Civic Center. We made it to the one and only ticket office where a senior ticket for BART can be purchased, during normal business hours. It was 10:30 in the morning but they were closed?

As the Library was very close and she was interested we decided to pay a call to see if any of my old friends from days gone by might still be working. As it happened both things were true. She also got the tour of that structure that marked the end of the Public Library in San Francisco. and I got a chance to catch up with a friend for some of those long gone days.

We returned to BART, where I bought the tickets needed, and the second we finished that transaction the clerk closed the office again! It was very strange as that’s the only place anyone can actually buy a senior ticket throughout the whole system.

Our walk continued into and through the Financial District, then on up into Chinatown to arrive in North Beach where we were joined again by my friend for lunch. After lunch the three of us decided to try the luxurious deserts ­ in fact we bought five of them and at our sidewalk table I divided them into three parts. These were very small deserts but beautifully presented. Our table on ‘Columbus’ had a lot of foot traffic; where we soon drew a crowd that was stunned to see three people with five deserts.

There were lots of questions, some even stopped to chat. “Do you guys plan to enjoy all of them?” “Of Course!” and that was a moment that we got to share with total strangers.

From there we continued the adventure through Little Italy and Washington Square. As we left the Square there was a most unusual corona visible around the afternoon sun ­ in the brilliant light of day.

I had never seen anything like that anywhere ­ it was truly amazing! Then it was on to the fringes of Russian Hill to The San Francisco Art School, the original one established in the 1920’s. From their rooftop plaza you can see the City from Alcatraz to the Oakland Bay Bridge, most of the Bay including Angel Island and the harbor. The only thing we couldn’t manage to include in that vista was the Golden Gate Bridge, slightly further to the West. My friend calls this “The Million-dollar View”. Aside from the Chemtrails that have haunted the city for twenty years, this was another very special moment. From the same rooftop we were able to look down into the art school itself and into some of their offices and studios through the round skylights ­ then we moved on to find Lombard Street.

We joined with the tourists taking pictures, just like everybody else, of “The Crookedest Street in the World”. By that time; after having walked something like fifteen miles of city streets ­ it was time for a cab.

While we were waiting on Lombard at Leavenworth—nature gave us a second stunning surprise. A large a very vocal flock of green parrots with flame orange heads, straight from the jungles of South America burst over the city street scene.

The beginnings of the flock we saw, had escaped from a zoo, and taken up residence in some Palm Trees at Fort Mason, twenty years ago. The parrots are still there, expanding their territory every year. They’re not usually seen much, outside Fort Mason, but they’re still fantastic!

Back at the apartment we began to bring our individual stories together to span the decades that have passed, while all three of us were very living separate lives.

It is amazing how much some people can have in common with others, regardless of the very different histories and experiences that have formed the lives of each of us. The next few hours of those conversations were a gift from the universe during which a great deal was learned and realized. In many cases some things were discovered for the very first time in the long and frequently conflicted lives that each of us has led. We came to know that this adventure in both the darkness and the light still continues, but now we know more about who we are as individuals as we see more about how our lives have intersected with hundreds of others on our individual ways through these shared experiences.

At the conclusion of the day we all experienced ‘just how totally screwed up’ this supposedly “modern society” really is.

In order to catch the flight leaving the City for Milwaukie, my niece called ahead to confirm the ticket and what we thought was the reservation, at 8:20, to leave San Francisco that evening. All appeared to be fine.

We left the apartment early to take BART to the airport, with plenty of “time” to spare. The bus to get to BART was a bit late, but nothing out of the ordinary. The change in the BART stations caused us to backtrack from Van Ness to Civic Center, which caused the loss of some time. Inside the BART station we lost roughly another half hour waiting for the train to the airport which seemed to always be coming—yet remained @ “two minutes” away because as BART finally told us the train operator could not succeed in “closing the doors”. More time disappeared.

Once we got off at SFO and on to the airport shuttle that was fine. But then when we got to kiosk and she tried to automatically check in at the US Air terminal her “reservation” was denied!

We looked around the terminal where the flight was supposedly about to begin boarding in twenty minutes but there were only a very people at the desk, or in the boarding lines for the flight. The terminal was virtually empty. My niece cornered an agent who explained to her that: “Since she had not formally checked in a full two hours before the flight, her reservation had been denied.”

Ironically her supervisor, who booked the flight for her, had not mentioned this “requirement” because it was not mentioned to him when he made the “reservation”. The ticket agent in San Francisco told my niece, that they were NOT REQUIRED to tell passengers of this deal breaking requirement: Because people were “supposed to know about the requirements”.

Meanwhile the public which is flying much less today than ever before are expected to cram themselves into fewer and fewer planes. We also learned that the San Francisco International Airport closes down from midnight to four am. This “fact” became problematic with any additional flight arrangements that she would need to make: If she was going to be able to leave last night so that she could get back to work today, on the other side of the country.

My friend and I had to leave her at the airport, because BART too was going to shut down @ 10 pm. It would not reopen again until 4am this morning.

Coming back to the city on the twenty-five minute BART ride, it became clear that the entire system of air travel in the US is totally screwed up! The primary reason for this is two-fold. The first problem is the lack of direct flights without having to hock you first born child to pay for the ticket.

The second problem is the nineteenth century idea that some idiot thought could actually work today—that would be the creation of international HUB airports. This makes shutting down America’s skies into a piece-of-cake. All anyone needs to do is shut down the five major hubs and there would be no air travel anywhere over the United States: Whereas, if there were direct flights from wherever one is to wherever one wants to go ­ then shutting down a few major airports would not shut down America’s skies. The flying public can easily see which of these “non-choices” the paranoid government has decided to use.

The third part of this farce is to try to take any plane from point to point, in the USA. The airlines via TSA have demanded that any potential flyer arrive two hours ahead of time just to be able to get on the plane. This is a massive waste of time which is never compensated for by either the government or the airline—instead they tend to treat this massive inconvenience as just another requirement for”national security”.

For my niece yesterday there were only a very few people waiting for the plane that was supposedly full. The airport was virtually empty and this was pointed out but not responded to: That was when we found out about the “failure” to inform the buyer that the only way anyone can insure their reservation is to arrive two hours in advance ­ regardless of anything else that might or might not be going on.

For instance, last night in San Francisco the World Series qualifying game was being played and almost the whole city came to a stop while that was happening.

I watch a lot of movies and I have yet to see any film that ever includes anything that TSA routinely does to the passengers they harass, assault or grope because Zion doesn’t want the public to see what they routinely do to the elderly, to women or kids just to get on a plane…

Regardless of the problems that swirled around trying to get my niece on her conflicted aircraft we all knew that this did not touch the

24 Hours of Joy’!

Have a Great Weekend!


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