Dave Rice 11:30 a.m., Dec. 9
It's Hump Day to most. Weed Wednesday to me. When I get home after a long day, I know there will be people huddled in a group smoking weed in the alley. This should shock me or disturb me or make me look away, but it is something familiar and is no different than a meetup for coffee or a cold beer after work. It is the concept of a weekly "ritual" that is comparable.
I don't participate in Weed Wednesday, but some days I think I should.
My whole neighborhood provides that offbeat comfort to me. It allows me to blend right in, go unnoticed for days; however, in contradiction, I feel recognized at just the right moments. Like when the soliciter outside of Vons sees me, he knows I'm not going to sign his petition or listen to what he has to say. The first time was enough and now when he sees me, we exchange knowing looks and he doesn't approach me at all. He just yells out, "Have a good day!"
When I walk into Starbucks, they know my name and depending on the barista, they know my order: tall white chocolate mocha and cranberry orange scone. This is the same with City Dragon and North Park Sushi. At times I'm such a creature of habit, it's scary. But in instances such as this, it makes me feel like a subpar VIP (if there is such a thing).
The teller at the bank knows I want everything deposited as cash. I know he just got back from Italy and that working weekends don't bother him. And even on Friday afternoons when there is nothing but a chaotic cluster, he is patient, calm and always smiling. When I first moved here, I judged one of the librarians too early. I thought her to be grouchy and in need of an immediate lay. But after being witness to the aftermath of some patron stacking all the DVDs vertically and out of order, I understood how frustrating a day of hers might be.
There are a sea of characters at the library, myself included among the mass frenzy. I've been followed through the stacks twice. Once, the parking lot security officer tracked me down to make sure I am actually a library card owner, I'm guessing. (San Diego is mad diligent about parking here, as I've learned five parking tickets later).
The other a man who followed me through the Fiction section, over to the magazines and back to the stacks, only to stare at me from the other side. I stared at him unamused; he meandered back to his corral. No words exchanged. Just a common understanding that he needed to get away from me.
North Park is the best place to get a contact high figuratively speaking and on Weed Wednesdays, literally so. I'm constantly crossing paths and coming into contact with people who are strangers to me, yet still strike me as strangely familiar.
We are all the odd man out.
I know that after it rains my sidewalk will be covered with an army of snails. I know on Saturday morning my apartment complex feels the most alive with the varying music from everyone's windows creating the best soundtrack to start my day. I know Wednesday means the weekend is upon us and if I'm very lucky, I'll get a whiff of that high.