Monday, November 03, 2008

The party's over: catch up #1

OK, you can now accept the date and time of this post as correct, because I'm home!

The previous post was about a week ago, just before RE arrived in San Diego, so I've a bit of catching up to do. I've decided to do the updates in several shorter boring posts rather than a huge long boring one!

Here goes with the first:

Monday 27th October

We didn't play golf. Instead, we had a look round some motorcycle shops, and then drove up to Point Loma and the Cabrillo National Monument which overlooks San Diego and the entrance to the bay. In 1542 Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was the first European to set foot on the west coast of what is now the USA, and the view from the National Monument which honours him is bloody good, to say the least! Great view over San Diego Bay, and the military establishments there, including a nuclear submarine base.

The rest of the day was spent chilling!

Tuesday 28th October

RE was due into LAX at around 11.15am, so my brother, D, and I headed north up Interstate 5 and on the way to the airport we headed first to Long Beach and to RMS Queen Mary, or rather the Hotel Queen Mary, which was built close to my house in the John Brown shipyard on the river Clyde, sailed the high seas for a long number of years, and is now an hotel. I can't vouch for what the hotel is like inside, but the outside isn't much to look at, covered as it is by a fair amount of wooden hoardings painted grey. Not all the way up, obviously, but high enough to detract from the lines of the ship. We had 30 minutes free parking before having to pay, so we didn't hang around for all that long, and we certainly didn't spend money going onto her.

Next stop, breakfast. Needing to find a petrol, sorry, gas station, the SatNav directed us a mile or two from the Queen Mary and once that was completed we set it for the nearest Starbucks which was pretty close. So far, so normal. But other than the identical menu it was rather different from the ones we had been frequenting in San Diego. For a start it was in what looked to be a bus station, or at a major bus exchange anyway, and it smelt a bit funny. Nothing you could pinpoint, but just a bit odd.

As we were standing at the counter being served, there was a man sitting very nearby next to an electric wheelchair which was plugged into the wall being recharged. The man was sitting with what looked like a sketch book, and he suddenly, loudly, said something which appeared aimed in our general direction. I looked round and made eye contact, but nothing more was forthcoming so I looked away again. We sat down, a bit further away from him but still in line of sight, and earshot. As an aside, while we were passing I glanced at the sketchbook. It looked like a primary school pupil had drawn Mr Potato Head badly!

A middle aged, hippy-looking woman came in, laden with bags which she dumped on a table across from us, but she didn't sit down. After fussing around, huffing and puffing and muttering to no one in particular, she suddenly leaned towards the counter, which was right next to the table, and demanded "I need water". The assistant replied that they sold bottled water which was in the chiller against the wall, but the woman, raising her voice slightly, declined this and again asked for water. The assistant politely told her that it was company policy not to supply free tap water when they sold bottled. The woman, clearly becoming argumentative and therefore much louder, demanded water again. And so on for a moment or two, until she agreed to buy a bottle from the chiller but suddenly changed her mind and announced (loudly) to everyone that she had always fucking hated the fucking way fucking Starbucks fucking did their fucking business, and she would fucking go elsewhere! She gathered up her belongings and flounced out. Oh, and she may have sworn a bit too. D and I could only look and laugh.

A minute later another, younger and more respectable, woman was at the counter. Wheelchair man had by now struggled to his feet and made it back into the wheelchair. He said something to the young woman, but she didn't quite hear him, having earphones in her ears listening to an iPod, but she was aware that he was speaking to her so took them out her ears and turned to him. Wheelchair man shouted at her that she should fucking listen better, then told her to help him out the door. She said OK, but told him he didn't need to be so rude about it, and she walked to the door next to our table and held it open. He shouted even louder for her to wait a fucking minute because the wheelchair wasn't fucking unplugged yet, and she'd better fucking do that right now. She told him just to forget it and walked back to her place at the counter. Much more reserved than I'd have been, I think.

Another young male in the queue stepped forward and unplugged the chair from the wall socket, the chair sprang into life, and wheelchair man started moving towards the door, which was now being held open by the young man. As he glided across the floor, a torrent of abuse was directed at all and sundry, including D and me who were apparently motherfuckers who would get their asses kicked by wheelchair man just shortly! All we could do was laugh at him, and of course tell him to fuck off in no uncertain terms.

Now I have no problem with helping those less fortunate, and will in fact go out my way to hold open doors, or whatever is necessary, but while I don't expect those seeking my assistance to grovel, I particularly don't expect them to ask for help by shouting, swearing, and demanding assistance, and by giving foul mouthed abuse when that assistance is not immediately forthcoming in the way expected! The guy was clearly a prick, and I trust at some point someone will object to his lack of manners in a more physical way than just telling him to fuck off. It will be deserved!

So, who'd have believed we'd have seen mad people in LA!

We then quit this Starbucks, which when I think about it was maybe an homage to the bar in Star Wars, and headed to the airport to collect RE, who was looking surprisingly awake after being on the go for about 24 hours!

Heading back south down Interstate 5, we diverted to North Beach, so that RE could chill out by the Pacific Ocean for a while to try to delay the jetlag. While she and I walked a short distance along the beautiful golden sand, RE with shoes removed and splashing around happily, D sat on a rocky outcrop and enjoyed the scenery. But while he was looking at the ocean he suddenly noticed a small furry head with whiskers sticking out, popping up in front of him and looking around. D glanced away, and by the time he looked back it was gone. We couldn't figure out what it had been, but our suggestion of an effect of being out in the sun for too long was rejected by D!

The evening was spent doing more chilling around the barbecue.

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