Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cable Car Confessions: The Little Boy and his Rockstar

Ding ding all aboard. "Next stop Powell Street Chinatown. Tickets please show me your tickets please." These sounds are very familiar to San Francisco tourists and locals. What is the one thing that you have to do when you come and visit San Francisco? Ride the cable car. What we don't hear about are the stories from the cable car drivers. I can't imagine what they see and hear everyday. This is their job. They ride in the fog, sun, rain, and in traffic jams. Here is one of their stories.

Do you remember when you were a small child and some adults seemed like royalty to you? I can remember looking up to all of my teachers. Every word rang true to my young and impressionable mind. I really didn't question my teachers until I got into high school?

I also remember looking up to airline pilots. To me pilots were like rock stars. I asked the stewardess almost every time that we flew if I could go to the cockpit and meet the pilots. When we were allowed to meet the pilots they were so big to me and in uniform. I always wondered to myself if the pilots made airplane noises to themselves as they flew like we did when we flew our airplanes. After visiting the cockpits (which children are not allowed to do anymore) the co-pilot would give me a sticker in the shape of small wings which I placed on my shirt and wore proudly throughout the flight to show everyone that I had been to the cockpit.

A couple of weeks ago, on my commute to work, I witnessed what it must be like for a child to look up to a cable car driver. Cable car drivers must be so intimidating to children. They are usually huge men (you have to be to pull the two large levers and press the huge pedals at every block for hours each day) that wear uniforms and yell out to the cable car for tickets and about upcoming stops. They will also sternly let you know if you are standing in the wrong place or if you have purchased the wrong ticket.

My usual morning stop to get onto the cable car is the Leavenworth street stop. One morning I had noticed a father taking his children to school. They were an Asian family and even though I have seen this family several times, I have never seen their mother with them. His oldest daughter is around 7 and his son is around 4 or 5. They both have very large backpacks on with cartoon decorations. The kind of over-sized backpacks that make you place wagers in your mind on when the child will topple over from the additional weight.

This morning, I saw my regular cable car driver "Jose" and tried to find a place to stand as the cable car was packed with locals and tourists. Usually you can find a seat or stand inside the car, but on this day we were packed in like sardines. I stood next to "Jose" and tried to stay out of the way of his driving.

The father and his children were sitting inside the cable car and his son was peering through the window to where I was standing.

"Jose" I said to the cable car driver. "I think you have a fan."

"Jose" looked through the glass to see a small child staring at him. "Yes, they always take the cable car to school and get off at Powell Street. I smile and try to talk to the little boy, but he gets very shy and doesn't seem to speak a lot of English.

So I start smiling at the little boy and waved to him to come and meet "Jose." He shyly looks at me and stayed where he is seated. So "Jose" and I smile at him again and made some funny faces at to make him laugh.

He didn't crack. Nothing not even a little smile.

Then the families Powell street stop came and it's time for them to get off of the cable car. The little boy says nothing to us as he passes everyone on the cable car and his father carried him off the cable car safely looking out for incoming traffic. "Jose" and I started talking to each other again when we heard a small voice yelling to us.

It was the little boy being carried by his father down the street smiling,yelling and waving to "Jose" all the way down Powell street to his school. This made both of our days. Stay tuned for the next Chapter of Cable Car Confessions #5: The Pick Up Artist


La Belette Rouge said...

So sweet! You have inspired me to take a cable car ride when I am in SFO next week. I'll let you know if I get a story out of it.
Hope you are having a lovely weekend.

Le laquet said...

Nice! I bet I know what he wants to be when he grows up.

pj said...

Nothing better than a childs smile and cheers to brighten your day. I don't run into that much sitting in traffic.

Laura said...

So true pj. Can you imagine if you did smile back a child while you were sitting in traffic. People could think that we were stalkers? :) So glad you liked this story. More to come.

Miss Musing said...

What a great post! I loved pilots when I was little too. Back when I was little and there wasn't such heightened security, the pilots used to let my brother and I sit in the cockpit before the fligh took off!

Every time you post one of these it makes me wish I'd been to SF!