Adventures on a Book Tour

2015-09-16 12.01.42Today was my final full day in San Francisco, and was it ever full.  It started out innocuously enough, but then turned into something more exasperating/menacing/thrilling, mostly due to my stupidity.  But I’m jumping the gun here.  I wanted to get back to Betelnut, a restaurant that my wife and I really liked the first time we were in San Francisco together (and I also wanted to add to the “Love Love on Location” thing I’m doing on Instagram).  No problems there.

Afterwards, I walked over to the John Pence Gallery, something else I wanted to do while I was here.  Greg Gandy is an artist I’ve admired for quite some time, and I wanted a chance to see his works live.  Pence himself was there and showed me a bunch of his stuff, which was unfortunately way out of my price range.  But it was great to see some of them in person.

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About this point was when I noticed that my phone was at about 50% battery capacity.  This was not news to me, as the night before, I almost ran out of charge, something I’ve never experienced before.  That’s because at home, I hardly use data when I’m out and I never have the GPS on, both of which I had to activate in order to use Citymapper.  For those who have never used this app, I can’t tell you how wonderful it is, especially here in San Francisco, where the bus system is not easy to navigate.  The only problem with this app is that it runs through the battery like there’s no tomorrow, at least with my cheap Android phone.  I didn’t expect this, but I did think ahead before the trip, about how invaluable smartphones have become, especially during travel.  So I’d brought my spare, older smartphone with me.  The night before, I ended up draining both phones by the time I got back to my home away from home.

Anyway, I had about 45 minutes before I had to head out to Oakland for a tennis event that the lovely Eddie Pasternak (he’s not only a fantastic tennis teaching pro, he’s an excellent jazz guitarist) at The Hills Swim & Tennis Club.  That wasn’t enough time to recharge the battery all the way, but it got to 70% when I headed out the door.  By the time I’d arrived at the club, the battery was already down to the low forties, so I placed the phone in airplane mode.

I met Eddie and the half dozen others who were attending the event, and just as we started to play, it started raining!  A sparse few drops soon became a steady drizzle, though I did get someone to take this ridiculous photo before we stopped.

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What am I doing here?  I look like somebody who has never played this game.  Sigh.  Anyway, so no tennis.  Which was disappointing but not terribly so, because we all went in and talked about the US Open that had just concluded, and then the discussion went deeper into tennis.  I was thrilled, actually; it was so nice to talk about the game and the players with such knowledgeable fans.  And then I talked about my book, about publishing, we had some cheese and crackers and fresh fruit, and all was fine and dandy.

Eddie was kind enough to drop me off at the BART station, and after I bid him thanks and goodbye and saw him pull away, I realized I’d left my racquet back at the club.  So incredibly boneheaded of me.  Now I had to turn my phone back on, call the driver on Lyft.  After the trip back to the club and back to the BART station, the battery was down to the low 20s.  This was gonna be super close, too close to use to get back home.  But I had my spare phone…except I didn’t!  I left it in the Lyft guy’s car for some unknown, crazy reason.

So I changed my destination.  Instead of going home, I would go to the Amazon Locker on Baxter.2015-09-17 05.08.45

What is Amazon Locker?  I had no idea what it was, either, until I ordered an external battery pack late last night and had it delivered there overnight.  Since I did not want to go through the danger of being without Citymapper (I would literally not know where to go without it), I figured this would resolve it.  I’d planned on picking it up the next day, but I couldn’t see another way out of this.  It was getting late, and it was still raining, causing all sorts of delays everywhere.  The battery got down to 2%, only because I copied and wrote down the instructions on a piece of paper and used that to navigate through the buses and the streets.

That’s what it looks like.  You punch in a six-character code (which I’d also thankfully copied down onto paper when the battery was at 3%), and a locker door pops open and inside is…

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…salvation.  Luckily, it came with a power cable.  How ironic it would’ve been if all there had been was the battery.  And it was 75% charged, too.

So there you have it.  Who knew a book tour could resemble Mission:Impossible?

Tomorrow, I’m off to Los Angeles, where I’ll have a rental car through the weekend.  I’m very much looking forward to that.