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Friday Slide Show: The Unrushed Hour Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

11 May 2018

We happened to be downtown around rush hour yesterday and thought it might make a challenging assignment for our Friday slide show. We spent about 30 years coping with rush hour but it was back in the days when knights wore armor.

So we weren't sure we could wrap our unhelmeted head around the modern version. A sentiment that probably had its genesis just a few days when we returned home on the streetcar at rush hour.

We looked up at our fellow travelers and didn't find a single one who looked happy. It seemed to us we were in a suicide prevention center not a streetcar. Everyone downcast, drooling over little screens, not a single conversation breaking the noise of the tracks.

The perfect Robin Williams moment, we thought. "Good morning, Vietnam!" But then we remembered how that ended.

It was no better yesterday. When we reached Market St. at Montgomery, it was a dismal scene. We wove our way through the bike messengers to the curb where an ambulance and two squad cars were flashing their lights.

We had some time to kill so we headed for Yerba Buena Gardens ...

Whatever had happened, they were just wrapping it up. And in the several minutes it took, we waited for the light to turn green so we could cross Market. The longest red light in history with streams of cyclists, skateboarders and scooters squeezing between the emergency vehicles and the traffic.

Not like the good old days when knights rode armored steeds.

We were not, let's just say, inclined to whip out the camera. So we crossed the street and just kept walking.

We visited a few of the old haunts. Mostly they were gone. Just one restaurant where we used to lunch remained. The barbershop was history. The famed photo store Gassers, of course, had closed a while ago.

We were tempted to take a few photos of Gassers. But we didn't have the heart. We can't say we were fond of the place. The store clerks seemed to think they were deities on display. If you didn't bring alms they wouldn't even look down on you. But we couldn't speak ill of the dead.

So we left it and wandered back toward SFMOMA listening to the chat of the day on the street. Anxiety, confusion, resentment, all the spices sprinkled on youth. Nothing, however, to photograph.

We had some time to kill so we headed for Yerba Buena Gardens, a green spot just across the street from SFMOMA and Moscone Convention Center.

And there we found respite. The unrushed hour.

There were a surprising lot of people just sitting on the grass or the benches allowing time to just pass by. Some of them, no doubt, were on dinner breaks. But others seemed done for the day. And there were even a few tourists accompanied by their rollers.

Oddly enough for a public park, it felt safe. We didn't notice any security guards but no one seemed worried, either. Infants were practicing their new galloping skills on the lawn, challenging their over-burdened parent to catch them. That's about as dangerous as it got.

We started snapping pictures. We're not sure what story they tell. But like those days of yore, it would seem to be just another urban legend.

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