On Friday, April 20th, I had one of those driving days. I had to be at one meeting in the morning and another across town in the afternoon, and the combination of tight timing, high dress standards, and steep hills made riding a bike implausible. The second meeting was the campus sustainability awards committee. Because I was driving for the first time in two weeks to attend a sustainability award meeting, I figured I would win the irony award. Despite that things were going reasonably well at first.
I had planned to pick up my son early from school after my last meeting, because he and Matt were heading to Boston for a week to visit an uncle’s new memorial, and I wanted to spend some time with him before he left. But then I got an emergency call that my in-laws, who were supposed to pick up our daughter at preschool, were nowhere to be found. And it was an early pickup day, and preschool was closing. I was across town and had no transportation but the car. This was a situation I would come to regret.
So I started to drive back across town to pick her up, with the clock ticking and fees for late pickup piling up. Traffic was unbearable, even for San Francisco. By the time I reached Golden Gate Park, I realized the problem: I was trying to drive across Golden Gate Park at 4:20pm on 4/20. A haze of marijuana smoke lay over the park like thick fog. I didn’t reach preschool until a half-hour later. I have not yet had the courage to ask how much a pickup that late will cost us.
Matt picked up our son, late, and they rode his bike through the park. He said that even that was significantly slower than usual, as walking stoners kept darting into the road and driving stoners with out-of-state plates kept circling randomly looking for parking, which was nowhere to be found for miles in any direction. They seemed confused to make this discovery.
My son, when I asked if there was anything I could do to make up our lost afternoon, requested a quesadilla from the Mexican restaurant. His favorite Mexican is a block from the park. Sigh. I rode my bike down through the traffic, which was stopped dead in every direction. It was a bad day to drive for anyone. I waited behind 100 stoners in line at the Mexican restaurant for 30 minutes, which was a trial. Their conversations alone, if you could call them that, were numbing. They had trouble organizing their orders. At least it was a quick ride home. That’s 20 days of biking now.
We had a similar experience last year, and the year before, on 4/20. I think given that we live so close to the park, I will have to black out that date on my calendar. Next year maybe we’ll rent a car and drive to Danville for the day.