A Moment in My Life – Thursday, September 23, 2021
Jeannie Yee Davis
Nothing ever happens in San Bruno until it does. I lived in San Bruno for over a decade, and seriously, nothing ever happened in that bedroom community. Back then, there weren’t even many walkers out on the sidewalks. People traveled in cars or buses, getting from point A to B tending to their business. In recent years, they added the crosswalk signal lights activated only where a person crosses the street for the sporadic few crossers on El Camino Real. They do get used on rare occasions—but nothing like the busy crosswalks in the city.
One afternoon in the heat of the pandemic, I drove along El Camino as I usually do when I was avoiding the freeway. This particular day, a slew of people lined up waiting to file into a store on El Camino caught my attention. I don’t recall seeing anyone walking on those sidewalks, let alone going in or out of a store. Yet, there was a long line of people single filed inching into some shop. I glanced at the store’s name out of curiosity, and the word “guns” caught my eye. Guns? There’s a gun shop in San Bruno? Since when? I wasn’t surprised about the gun purchases since guns were making the daily news, but San Bruno surprised me. The fascination was short-lived. Thank God. It felt nerve-racking thinking about more guns in civilian hands with all the protests and riots circling the towns.
I dropped off my car for a smog check at a garage in San Bruno earlier this morning. Since it was such a lovely day, sitting outside the library courtyard sounded like a delightful place to get some writing done while I waited. I walked on El Camino from Kains towards Angus, heading to the library, when an unsteady medium-size Caucasian man with a rat’s nest of mousy blond dreadlocks and wearing a green lumberjack shirt came towards me. He danced around a bit, possibly intoxicated as he had trouble smoking his cigarette—but I couldn’t smell any alcohol. He was loud and talking to me from a distance. I considered my options to evade him. El Camino’s blocks are long, the sidewalks are narrow, and the streets are wide with three lanes of traffic on both sides going opposite directions, leaving me no alternative but to walk by him.
I ignored him as I got closer to him, hoping he wouldn’t try to grab me. We were that physically close. Thank God. He didn’t try anything. He rattled on, and for a moment, he stopped moving, stared at me, and waited for me to answer his question, “Hey, you want to come to my birthday party?” At that point, I relaxed and laughed, realizing he was harmless. I giggled, thanked him, declined, and wished him a happy birthday. I began moving away as he tried to change my mind, but he didn’t follow me. I left him exercising his lungs with gibberish since I stopped listening.
I located a nice secluded bench in the courtyard, settled in on my MacBook, and began writing. It was lovely today. The air was fresh and soft with a hint of a light breeze and felt warmer than the 63 degrees shown on my car’s display earlier. This location was a perfect choice not to be bothered. A little while later, two police officers, one Caucasian and the other Asian, broke my concentration. My first thought was that they were moving me along because loiterers were prohibited or something. I was wrong. Instead, they asked me if I noticed any loud yelling and screaming, which I didn’t, and that was my answer. I suddenly remembered the birthday guy and told the officers about him. The Caucasian officer did all the talking. He asked, “green shirt?”
I answered affirmatively and added that he was down on El Camino near the bus stop. I’m a crackpot, so I said, “he invited me to his birthday party” for good measure.
The officer asked, “Are you going?” He cracked this crackpot up. I laughed and told him no! He thanked me for my help, and they went on their way. As I said earlier, I was in a secluded spot. I couldn’t stop wondering why they singled me out. Light bulb! I got it. I was wearing a green camouflaged fatigue hoodie. (Don’t worry. I had purple on.) They were looking for a green shirt. This is how being in the wrong place at the wrong time wearing the wrong color clothes gets you in trouble. Lucky for me, it ended well. I don’t look like I might be a person of interest, but hey, I’ve seen the news and movies, for that matter, and some people aren’t as lucky.
After all this, you probably think I’m smoking some funny stuff when I said nothing ever happens in San Bruno. Yeah, well, times have changed. I didn’t mention the shootings and the muggings at the mall months back. The pandemic has transformed life as we knew it. San Bruno is no different, and really until something happens in this town, nothing ever happens.