Monday, September 6, 2021

Call the Agent

“Agent, agent!!” you’ll hear my shout when I’m trying to problem-solve something with an 800 number and can’t stand talking to a machine. If I sign up for something that has a 5-second process with a Submit button without having to create or remember a password, I can bypass the human connection. But otherwise, I would always prefer talking to a live human being. Always. Multiply that. 


And so last post, I asked what plans the world has for me and apparently, not the same as I had for it. While the Bay Area is justifiably proud of its Bicycle Coalition and excellent work making biking more friendly, accessible and common, the actual bike paths—at least from the Sausalito Ferry to downtown Larkspur— are poorly marked. I was determined to not get Siri involved and so, I simply asked people whenever I suspected I was a bit lost—and as it turned out, that suspicion was most always true as they turned me around! And so with the help of some eight kind souls happy and willing to help out, I arrived at the restaurant to lunch with my sister 2 minutes before the reserved time. 


My clever plan was to take the longer ferry ride from Larkspur home, but after some dead ends and help from more people to get to the Ferry Terminal through the complex freeway challenge, it appeared that no ferries were running. Everything locked up and a schedule that mentioned weekends, but nothing for holidays. And so the only solution was another 8 miles or so back to the Sausalito Ferry.


I decided to get Siri into the action and that simply proved my point—she was useless. The first thing she noted was that it was 8.2 miles away, but suggested it would take over 2 hours for me to get there. Then started giving me directions to get on the freeway. With my bike. So I ended the route, began again accenting “BIKE route” and off I went again. The first five minutes were fine, but soon she was telling me again to get on the freeway. So I went back to my tried and true human contacts, met one man with great gestures indicating turns and useful icons (after the Bank of America) and pretty soon, things looked familiar as I hooked back into the way I had come— past Marin Joes, the empty Tesla dealer, the Black Lives Matter sign, the school where I had made a turn. Like the human contact, I equally enjoy the landscape contact rather than just blindly following GPS directions. 


And so some 30 bike miles later, I arrived home ready for a hot bath and some time off the bike seat. But reinvigorated by the exercise, the human contact, the ferry rides on the water, the lovely lunch with my sister at the Left Bank restaurant where we used to meet my Mom and Dad, amazingly and blessedly still there (the restaurant, that is), though with my favorite Jacque Pepin sandwich removed from the menu. 


Perhaps these helpers giving me directions were the enjoyable “Company I Keep” —and so last night’s dream was fulfilled. 

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