Day One, beginnings - Friday

I was hanging out with Kelly and James and Kelly’s Mom and her boyfriend, eating pizza. It was getting late so I headed out. At this point James and Kelly were under the impression that I moved to the city today and was now on my way home for the first time. They were partly correct. So when I left their apartment, I drove down to the Daly City Target to buy sheets, a blanket, pillows, and pillowcases. When I came out from Target with my new goods, I noticed that my front left tire was getting dangerously low. I checked the front right one and it was in the same place as the left one. So here I am in a Target parking lot at 11:00 at night getting ready for my first night sleeping in my car, 20 miles from San Francisco, and I need to find a gas station with an air pump to pump up my dangerously-close-to-flat tires.

I Googled the closest gas station, and found that it was only just around the block. I drove over carefully, as to not pop my tires which in my mind were surely going to pop at any moment, then pulled up to the scariest gas station on earth. Luckily it had an air pump. I realized that I’d need quarters after pulling up to the pump, so I jogged over to the creepy McDonalds next door, bought a one-dollar burger and one-dollar small fry, and asked for “three dollars in quarters please.”

“Your change is $17, is two dollars in quarters alright?”

“Yeah sure.” I try to be nonconfrontational, and it won’t take too long to pump up these tires, so whatever. So I walk back on over next door to my car and insert four quarters. The machine revs to life, and starts pumping air. These things work right away once you’ve fed them your change, so only then did I find that both my front tires were at a laughable 22PSI (they’re supposed to be at 43). Anyway, I hold the hose to the tire for about a minute, and recheck the PSI. At 30, great, this might take a while. I nervously checked the pressure every 10 seconds or so to see how long this might take, eager to get out of this dimly-lit gas station. One more minute later, the pump shuts off. I was at a whopping 32PSI. Was that good enough? Gee, I don’t know, but I might as well make them even. I shove four more quarters in the machine, the tank begins to blow again, and I pull the hose around to the right side tire. *SHUNK* Crap, the hose only reaches like five feet! I drop it on the ground and hop in the car to pull it around so the right tire is closer to the pump. I did the same amount of filling up as the other tire, until the pump cut off just after the predictable 32PSI MARK. I was too nervous to just think that was enough for now, so I embarrassingly trudged back over to the McDonalds, ordered a small Diet Coke, was reminded that all sizes were just a dollar and “do you want the jumbo size”, politely declined, was chastised by the enormous man behind me in line for not getting my money’s worth, half-assedly explained my tire situation, took 8 more quarters and some change, returned to my sad, sinking car and pumped his tires back up.

Once my car was back to an acceptable and safe-to-drive posture, I was finally able to eat my unintentional McDonalds fourthmeal. I took a few bites of the burger, ate most of the fries, drank a few sips of the Diet Coke before realizing I was about to, hopefully, go to sleep, and threw the rest of it out into the overturned trash can in the gas station parking lot. I got back in my car, and drove back up to the city to find a suitable place to park for the night.

As it goes with this kind of adventure, I got a sudden burst of optimism and sense of adventure for what I was doing, and decided I should go out to a busy part of the city and have a drink with some strangers. Must have been the jolt from those precious sips of Diet Coke. I ended up on 16th street between Guerrero and Delores. It seemed to be a happening place, so I locked the car down, covered up my valuables (That should work right?), and headed toward the crowds of people. Unfortunately the crowds were crowding around a crime scene, rather than some drunk cat fight, or some dude break dancing. There were police cars, ambulances showed up, they sectioned off parts of the road and sidewalk with caution tape, girls were crying on other girls’ shoulders. Witnesses were being interviewed and I caught a glimpse of the story, “these guys were just drunk and fighting and one guy pulled out a gun and just shot the other guy.” I looked over to see a body lying, covered in plastic on the ground, and another guy pressed against a police car in handcuffs, pretty calm actually, but still very surreal to see. Of course, as fun as all this looked, I was eager to get out of the thick of it and decided I would toast with strangers another night. I walked back to my car for bed time.

Nervous about the initial entry into my back seat, I paced around the car a while, looking not so unsuspicious. Finally, I popped the back door open, and clamored inside, tucking my feet in quickly and slamming the door shut behind me. Not too bad. But then I realized you can see out of tinted windows from the inside, even if you can’t from the outside. And suddenly every person that walked past me could see me in there trying to sleep. And soon after that, every person who walked past, I’m sure was stopping at my car just to see if they could see in. Even these two big mean guys stopped and plotted breaking into my car and killing me, I’m sure of it. I barely slept.