So last night, I was on the hunt for a TV. I found one on Craig's List that looked promising and after a few emails, I told the guy I'd be on my way over to check it out. He lives in the Haight, which is a short drive over from where I live in the Mission. I don't have a car though, so I started heading over there on my scooter. Knowing that despite my incredible ability to move large objects on my scooter (I once moved everything in my apartment to a new place using only a '79 Vespa P200E), this would not be the best way to get a 40-inch TV home, I decided that was a detail I'd just figure out along the way. My backup plan in case I didn't figure something out was to just call a cab, load the TV, and have him follow me home, hoping he didn't steal my TV.
As I waited for a light at Market and Sanchez, I noticed some Zip Cars. I'm a frequent Zip Car user (I fucking love Zip Car!), and I was starting to worry about the logistics of the cab plan, so I decided to park my scooter and get a car. As a bonus, there was a big, clean, safe looking bank on the other side of Market where I'd feel ok about withdrawing $600 from the ATM.
As I parked, I formulated a flawless and efficient plan: While walking to the ATM, I'd use the Zip Car application on my phone, which would figure out my location and offer me up the little Honda SUV I'd spied in the lot. I'd book it just as I got to the bank, get the cash, cross back to the car, and go get my glorious new telly. Things ended up being a bit more complicated, as Zip Car gave me some trouble, so I found myself standing outside the bank for a few extra minutes while I worked it out.
I should note here that the bank is one of those kind where you swipe a card to get in to a little foyer where the ATMs are located, I guess so ne'er-do-wells don't hang out at the machines and mug you as soon as you get the cash; they have to wait until you walk six feet to a door and exit in order to do that.
Anyway, as I hung out outside I noticed a sort of sketchy dude hanging around near me. At first I thought he might like to steal my phone, so I puffed up my chest and assumed my "menacing face" while I continued to wrestle with Zip Car's site. A few seconds later, I watched as he grabbed the door before it closed after someone walked out, and he walked in and waited with the other people waiting for a machine to open up.
Ok... that's not totally abnormal. Maybe he thinks only Chase customers can swipe in or something. Whatever. Back to Zip Car.
Eventually, the room clears out so he's the only one in there, and he goes up to a machine. I'm trying to hurry up on Zip Car because I want to grab the other machine before someone comes along. A few minutes more and my car is booked and I swipe in.
At this point, sketch dude has been at the machine for what I would say is an unusually long period of time, but not suspiciously so. As I walked up to the other machine, I could hear a little bit of the noise your belt makes when the buckle is clanging around, when you're buckling or unbuckling it. I glance over, and he looks like he's fiddling with the part of the machine where money comes out, so I pause, because if this dude is trying to break in to the ATM, I am getting the fuck out of there.
No... that's not what he was doing. Slightly closer investigation reveals that this guy is whacking off. I'm not sure if I'd say he's jerking off ON the ATM, TO the ATM, or IN FRONT OF the ATM, but the important thing is that he's jerking off AT the ATM that is RIGHT NEXT TO ME. I turn tail and walk outside, but I decide to wait, because I'm not walking 50 feet to go find another fucking cash machine. I've got a plan and I'm not letting this ATM-jacker-offer derail it.
I wait. A few minutes pass. I can understand the delay. For most people, ATMs are not ideal to jerk off in front of. I mean, sure there's a screen and sometimes that screen has a cute girl on it who is pondering her personal finances, but you really have to stretch to imagine her naked and doing something that gets you to the finish line. She's often in glasses, though, so I guess if it were me jacking off in front of the ATM, that might help.
After a while, a girl walks up and approaches the door. I fulfill my civic duty to intervene.
"Hey... hold on a second..."
She looks at me like I'm about to mug and/or rape and/or murder her. Everyone's always on guard at the cash machine.
"Before you go in there, you should know... I'm preeeeeeeetty sure that dude is jerking off right now."
She looks at him. "Whoooooah. Thank you!"
She decides to wait, too. This is the detail that makes this story take place in San Francisco as opposed to anywhere else. Any other two people in any other place, when faced with the dilemma of what to do when the ATM room you want to use is currently occupied by a public masturbator, would probably leave and call the cops, or just leave. But here... here we'll just politely wait it out.
"Are you sure he's jerking off?"
"I'm pretty sure. I didn't realize until I was at the machine next to him and he seemed to be messing with his belt and his pants. I mean, I guess he could be making a legitimate transaction, but he's been there for like ten minutes now."
"Pffft. Ten minutes? It shouldn't take that long."
I asked if she meant it shouldn't take that long to withdraw cash, or to bust a nut on the ATM. She said neither, which was the funniest part of this whole event.
Finally the dude finished up and began to bolt out of the ATM room, just as another girl walked up. The first girl notified the second girl of the situation, and once the room was clear, we all entered together. They sort of positioned themselves so that I'd walk in first, I guess in case the dude's sperm decided to attack or something. Since I'd been waiting the longest, I went to the non-tainted machine while the girls waited. After a minute or so (I botched my transaction by putting in the wrong card at first), the second girl got impatient and started toward the other machine. The first girl was like, "Nooooooooo!"
"Oh, is this the one? Ah well, I didn't see it so I'm just gonna pretend it didn't happen."
People. I swear on my mother's life I am not shitting you. Not only were three of us in a small room where we knew a dude had just jerked off, but one of us was using the machine that she knew he'd just jerked off in front of.
I got my cash, got the car, got the TV, dropped it off at home, and then returned the car. As I was walking back to where I'd parked my scooter, I noticed a very beautiful sidewalk garden that a tenant in one of the apartments had created. There were probably 20 large pots, some hanging, with many varieties of beautiful plants and flowers. I was less than a block from the bank where the nut-busting had occurred, but in a scene that was a thousand miles from it:
And that's what San Francisco is for me. It's a ying-yang style balance. Sometimes it's gross as hell, and sometimes it's improbably beautiful. It's frigid and unihabitable on one block, and sunny and warm on the next. Sometimes it's overly PC and jammed far up its own ass, and sometimes it's the most wacky and fun place on earth. Public transportation sucks, but the food is delicious. The mayor is a lech and corrupt, but he gets good things to happen. The population is enlightened and intelligent, but also smug and self-absorbed.
I fucking love this town and I fucking hate it, but even the parts I fucking hate are kind of awesome I guess.