Pleasantries in the City |

Pleasantries in the City

An attractive waitress fills my water glass. Our two sons, daughter-in-law, and grandson are giving Orllyene a fabulous Mother’s Day Brunch. We’re seated beneath a large umbrella on the deck of Sam’s Anchor Cafe, a stylish eatery on the wharf in Tiburon.

I wish our waitress Happy Mother’s Day. She smiles pleasantly. “I was raised by my dad, and I got him a Mother’s Day card, and it melted his heart,” she says, and drifts off to a nearby table. Feelings of love fill the air on this special day.

The sun is bright, the air fresh, and sailboats skitter gayly in all directions. To my right is the Golden Gate Bridge, to the left Angel Island, and directly across the Bay, the crown city of the West Coast, San Francisco.

As soon as we pay the toll, cross Market Street, and make the turn up Sacramento, I’m no longer a caged human. I love the perseverance of San Francisco. Half of the city was burned down, and wham, it came back stronger than ever. The weather is perfect, old Victorian houses shine like new, and there are more alleyways in China Town than in all of Alice in Wonderland.

I love the perseverance of San Francisco. Half of the city was burned down, and wham, it came back stronger than ever.

Dining well has become a fine art here, yet the number of small cafes in a single city block borders on the absurd. In one of our meanderings, I discover a pet pharmacy. In the parking lot of Target, a young woman is unloading her shopping cart directly into a Zipcar. This perplexes me.

“What is a Zipcar?” I ask.

She replies, “You rent Zipcars by the hour, so I do all my shopping in one day.”

TIME OUT: I leave my writing to take the elevator down to the fourth floor garage. We’re staying in the Portola Tower (circa 1965), on the scenic side of Nob Hill. Two elevators arrive in quick succession.

“Two cars arrived at the same time — is this one going down?” I ask a well-groomed socialite in one car. “Yes. Two elevators at once; something may have gone awry,” she says, pleased with herself for using the word “awry.”

“You must have gone to college,” I impulsively respond.

It’s her turn. “Not only that, but I went to graduate school, and learned some really good four-letter words, she says.”

I now have a new elevator friend.

Another memorable occurrence. We frequently dine at the Capitol Chinese Café on Clay. The nearly vertical route back up Sacramento to the Portola is better left to mountain goats. Voila! We claim a ride on an electric bus. The bus is packed tighter than a sausage over at North Beach. We climb aboard, and a young woman rises from the bench she is sitting on, as does her consort. Orllyene and I accept this gracious offer. Orllyene asks our young benefactor about her day at work, and with feigned distress, she replies it was “OK,” and a happy chatter-fest follows. Speaking with these young folks recalls my many bygone days when I was “behind the plow.”

Dear friend, when your spirit becomes restless, try San Francisco. You’ll be delighted.

Ron Walker lives in Smith Valley. He can be reached at