• Joanna

No Husband & Tenderloin

Updated: Jul 10


Ok... right here... right now... I'm going to give you the crazy 'foreshadowing' of my trip... The premonition...

The sign... the omen...

The only thing that came out of everyone's mouth when I said, "I'm going to San Francisco" was....

...............?


...............?


Can you guess what it was...?

....."take lots of money...."


My reply?

"I'm not going to buy much... I'm just going to walk around for a couple days."


... let the story begin...

Day #1.

I don't know why I foolishly convince myself that any trip I take will be devoid of any turmoil, because it's never the case. Something always happens... usually most days. Today was no exception to the rule. It's not always funny at the time... and usually in the midst of the pandemonium, my blood is boiling at an all time high, I'm thoroughly wired for sound and literally shaking...

Then maybe it's funny later.

To start my holiday off, I had to drive down to Bellingham to catch my flight. Easy peasy monkey squeezie...

so much.

I chose the WRONG line at the Sumas border crossing.

Note to self for future crossings- do NOT take the "Cars, RV's and Buses"option to the right. Steer very clear.  Stay left.


Two bus loads of elderly folk departing... slowly... off a big bus... painfully slow... to enter the border patrol quarters in order to clear customs. Please remember that they're doing all of this in front of someone who 1. has no patience and 2. has no patience & has to catch a flight... not cool.

That someone was me.

FINALLY the buses moved on and let the rest of us random Canadian terrorists through. Might I add that the damn buses do not merely pull up & wait in line like the rest of us... they loop around some secret passage and then BUD in front of everyone. Infuriating.

What seemed like a few hours later, was my turn.

I pulled up, turned down my music, rolled down my window, smiled, handed over my passport and answered all the questions in a polite and appropriate manner,

Then just when I thought I was in the clear... ready to continue driving...

Nope... I got the border jerk.

At first, he fooled me with his disguise of a kind face and a congenial disposition...

"Pull over, we are going to search your car and you can pick up your identification inside."

ERRRR.... I think my hoop earrings set off an alarm.

I'm convinced of it.

Inside was chaotic and I didn't wait long before a short, little fat man decided that I was going to be his radical-confessional project of the day.

This is an outline of pretty much how the conversation went... Where are you heading too? Bellingham. I fly to San Francisco today.

Why are you going there? There was a seat sale. I've never been, so I thought I would go for a couple days.

You're going alone? Yes.

With no one else? Just me. Ahh, the joys of traveling alone.


Who are you going to meet there? No one.

Who do you know that lives in San Francisco? Nobody.

You don't know ANYONE there? No one.

I don't understand why you're going then. I've never been, so I'm just going on a small vacation.

By yourself? Yes.

Why? There was a seat sale. I've never been.

So now you're going alone? Yes.

Why? I travel alone a lot.

He looked me up and down a couple times.


Where do you live? Mission, BC.

Do you have family there? Yes.

Is your husband ok with you leaving him and traveling alone? I don't have a husband.

What about your boyfriend? I don't have a boyfriend.

You don't have a husband OR a boyfriend? No.

I'm trying to flatter myself that he's hitting on me, but I know this is the prime example of pure & utter belittling.


Did you leave the kids at home? I don't have kids either.

I thought that you said you had family in Mission. I do.

But you just told me that you don't have any family. I have a mother and aunts and uncles and cousins.

THAT's your family? I think it constitutes...

Who's at home waiting for you? My dog...?

Your dog? Kinda.

Technically he's with my aunt and uncle at the moment. My "family"...


Is your dog traveling with you?

Now, I'm no border patrol officer... nor do I claim to know the ins and outs of this dangerous position... but I think that I can hazard to guess that if my dog was with me, that would be something I probably would have declared as I attempted to drive across.

My dog is not an "oh, ya! I almost forgot...!" kinda thing. Yep... no dog.


I reply slightly tongue in cheek, "I think that's evident."

Then he just stared at the screen for what seemed like eternity... while I watched the little hand on the clock tick-tock-tick-tock...


I'm going to miss my flight.


Finally I spoke up, "Is everything ok? Is there anything that I should be worried about?" That's what I'm trying to figure out, MA'AM!

Apologies...


How much luggage did you bring? One carry on.

How much clothes are you taking? Just a couple outfits.

What kind of outfits? 

... seriously....?

Umm... this dress I'm wearing, another dress, a skirt and a t-shirt & jeans.

Why do you need so many dresses? Because I'm planning on making money as an escort while I'm there.


He stumped me.


Why SO many dresses???

I didn't really answer because I was at a loss for words.

I let him stare at his computer screen, scouring for obviously non-so-evident clues that I was a potential terrorist with my many dresses and no husband.

He finally let me go. Not after interrogating me even more on my work position, when I have to be back... and then seemed concerned that I wouldn't be able to make it back to work on time on Thursday. This set off another red flag that I am probably tagged to be stopped at the border again.  This time I might bring my husband, just to avoid the harsh & unnecessary judgement.

The flight was ok. Just over 2 hours.  I slept most of it. I'll tell ya, carry on is the way to go. On the plane, off the plane... no hassle.

Took the BART in to San Fran... took me right in to Civic Centre, which was, by my calculations, near my hotel.  I'd booked at this Victorian looking inn called "The Bay Hotel"... and although there didn't seem to be an actual 'bay' anywhere near the hotel, it seemed nice.

"Seemed nice" seems to be my theme of the day.

The border patrol officer. Then my hotel... but we shall get to that... 


From the Civic Centre, I just picked a direction and started walking.  My phone was at 3% and I figured it wouldn't probably be far until I'd find a little pub that I could take refuge from the rain, plug in my phone and have a little something to eat. Figure out where in the city I was... where I was going to... call a cab.

That was how it was all going to work out in my head.'

The only unfortunate part was that I chose the wrong direction to walk in and I suddenly realized it when I was 1 block away from the main square and surrounded by garbage, drug addicts and homeless. I have never turned around so quickly in my entire life.

You know in the Walking Dead, when they have to manoeuvre themselves through the dead, they make themselves look and smell like the creatures?  Guess I looked "money"because I did not fit in at all. One lady came running up to me begging for money because people were being mean to her. She was slumped over, her face hidden by some kind of ripped wind-breaker, and I swear I'd just seen her doing a drug deal at the bus stop shelter.

It was just a good indication to go the other way...

Instinct? ... maybe...


I did finally find a little pub.  I really had to hunt through the streets though... and then ask someone.  Charged my phone, had some chili... called a cab.

I don't have Uber yet because I have no data... no wi-fi at the pub and actually, thank GOD I called the taxi because the driver saved my life.  I handed him my confirmation for the hotel I was staying at and immediately he pulled over and said, "No! You no want go here! Very, very bad.  Not good."

Excuse me?


"Bad area. If you go inside hotel here, you never come out." Hmmm... fascinating.  This was definitely not one of those 'challenge accepted' times. The taxi driver decided to show me the hotel, which basically meant that he drove me back (and further in) to the area that I'd just recently found myself wandering around.

NO WAY.


When we pulled up in front of the 'hotel'... and I use the term loosely, I wouldn't even get out of the cab. I phoned, I cancelled and I got out the hell out of Dodge.

Booking.com dinged me $231.67 for late cancellation, but at least I wasn't beaten up, raped, robbed, drugged and then sold in to the sex trade for a bag of crack.

Tenderloin.


That's what the area was called.  I'm calling it "ch-ching" because that's what this has all done to my credit card.


The taxi driver took me to a hotel in a safer area of town and... it's a crappy little motel... maybe a couple steps up from slum.  I don't mean to be rude, but I'd hardly call it quaint or boutique...

It's costing me over $200 a night and I actually have to check out in the morning because the prices sky rocket for Tuesday and Wednesday.

The guy at the front desk told me to check out in the morning, go away for the day and then come back later in the evening when maybeprices have dropped and they have a room available.  It's not a confident, nor a settling feeling, but I really have no other choice unless I want to commit for the 3 days at a premium rate.

The pickles I get myself in to...

So... my first night in San Fran, what did I do? I walked. Up hills and down hills and up hills and down hills. Up more hills and down more hills. This city should be a weight loss program.

I keep thinking about the TV show "The Streets of San Francisco"and then can't get the song "Streets of Philadelphia" out of my head. Very annoying...

I walked down Lombard Street... I wandered around Fisherman's Wharf... bought a hat and I took a trolly!  I felt like I was a character in Mr. Rogers Neighbourhood.

Then back to the hotel to sleep and get ready to wander the streets tomorrow... with no particular place to stay.

Wish me luck...

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