Some months back, after I left Freeway Insurance, my brother got me a job as a pedicab driver downtown. I didn't want to take it, but it was a job and I needed to make some money. I would wake up in the wee hours of the morning under a big tree in Mission Bay Park with hundreds of ants crawling all over me; and if that wasn't bad enough, the darn sprinkler system went on at 4 a.m. like clockwork. It was my alarm, and I had to grab my things and make a mad dash to the gazebo. I was pretty quick, but sometimes I wasn't quick enough and got soaked.
I remember when I first got to Mission Bay Park and woke up in the wee hours of the morning to a barbecue and baptism. I was just opening up my eyes when a guy looked at me and said, "Would you like to join us later today for our annual barbecue and baptism?” Being quite hungry, I said yes.
I had to gather my belongings and walk over to the gazebo some 50 feet away, roll up my blanket, take my green backpack, and trudge through the hot sand to my secret hiding place: a big bush next to the edge of the water. I would do this by breaking off branches of the trees that were close by. Was I ruining the trees? Well, possibly, yes, but I wasn't worried about that; I was worried that if I didn't hide my stuff where nobody could see it, then I would come back later and my stuff would be gone. Once I was convinced that I had done a good job, I would start walking around the park with no destination in mind. Just to kill time.
I found out that the barbecue-and-baptism guys were from a really nice religious group in Clairemont. I wasn't the only guy who attended the barbecue and baptism that day, and I was really happy. Not only did I eat, I feasted! There were close to 50–60 people who brought chips, salads, cookies, homemade dishes, sodas, and bottled water. They cooked ribs, chicken, carne asada, hamburgers, and hotdogs.
I was invited at around 6 a.m., but the food wasn't served until the baptisms were over. I walked by the water where the event was taking place, and it was both interesting and real-life stuff. The pastor, who was a much older man than me, asked if I wanted to be baptized. I kindly said no.
After the baptism was over, they said, “Grab a plate. It’s time to eat!" Man, oh, man, I ate for an hour straight. I hung around for a little while. The group packed up their belongings and I graciously said, "Thank you and God bless you!" It was getting dark at 8 p.m. when everybody left. I wasn't a religious person at the time, but I did believe that it was truly nice to be invited and accepted like that.
I then walked over to my hiding place and prayed that nothing was missing. Thank God, all was safe. I grabbed my stuff and walked over just a few feet to an area I called Hawaii and laid down my dirty white pillow, blue sleeping bag, and blue blanket and waited for the SeaWorld fireworks to go off at 9 p.m.