Yeah! So Jenessa Stemke and I were on the tail end of our awesome Urban Foraging bicycle ride, winding up lost someplace on one of Irvine's bike paths. We needed to get to Main St. to once again reorient ourselves. I spotted a jogger coming our way so I suggested that we ask him, thinking that he must be a local thus know the directions to Main St. During our discourse, he pointed his thick arm toward the tallest building in a stand of tall buildings,
- "That way. That one, the tallest right over there with the weird angle," raising his arm way up.
But let me tell you how we met him, how we approached him. Jenessa was already well past him on the paved bike path, but I stopped abruptly about ten feet in front, sort of cutting him off, it would likely have appeared to him, but, as I look back, at first I think that I was merely turning my bike around so that I could perhaps keep up with him should he go past us, but there was something else: I hoped to prevent a lost opportunity to connect with him by preempting his possibly negative judgement of us as often happens, in my experience, when I pass by a person and I say nothing, keeping an expressionless face, and then going back to that person to ask or say something. By that time, the other person has made a judgement and is shut down to further interaction. So this is what I was attempting to avoid.
Jenessa then stopped about fifteen feet behind him. He stopped, startled, eyes wide open. I immediately asked him if he would help us out with location and destination, this, in order to inform him what this was all about, I being aware that he could have perceived us as a threat. Jenessa than clarified what we needed.
- "We are looking for Main St."
He gave us a series of streets and turns. I must have looked perplexed, not recognising those streets in this town, and I am not the sort that has an auditory memory upon the first listening. To remember, I have to repeat it to myself, and better with a visual image. Jenessa seemed to grasp his instructions better, perhaps because she planned out the original route, or perhaps she's a better memorizer.
The day was glorious: The temperature just right, comfy with the right amt. of moisture, the scenery pleasant, the vegetation green with a sprinkling of flowers, the path clean. Earlier in the day, Jenessa pointed out a hedge row below at the runoff whose reddish/brown flowers were poisonous.
Suddenly, I guess, because he realized that the route he layed out for us could be trouble, he blurted out,
- "Hey, it sounds more complicated than it really is...or I can just drive you there."
- "Nah. I think we can get there." Jenessa observed,
- "No, no. I think we should take him up on his offer, to allow him to do this for us as it would give him the opportunity to do a good deed...a good deed for the day," I urged enthusiastically.
- "Well then, why don't you meet me at that glass building," modifying his directions which were still a bit difficult to follow so he simplified, so he simplified them even more.
- "OK, just meet me at where the path crosses the bridge. I will do a fast job to meet you two there."
- "Sure," I replied.
This sounded better to me, so Jenessa and I rode there. The distance was about four football fields away. When we reached that location, we stopped and observed our surroundings. Yep, there was his building in the distance, the bridge over the local river to our left, and some construction on the right. Jenessa said that she had to relieve herself, so we looked for a private place, walking around this chain link fence toward where there was a portable toilet at the construction site. I briskly waked toward it and examined accessibility. The toilet turned out to be completely enclosed within the periphery of the fence, with the only way to gain entrance through the fence was to unwind three wires, too thick for bare hands, so we walked back to the bridge. I pointed out that hedge which still ran below, along the path, the hedge with the poison flowers.
- "If you went between the hedge and the long pile of dirt, there," I pointed, "you might find privacy."
- "Just turn left, then right, and go to the entrance to that building,"
The two of us took off on our bikes. I still was not sure that we were going in the right direction, but we wound up at what I thought was the entrance to that building.
- "I wonder if they would allow me to use the bathroom?"
She peered toward another building, the one that turned out to be the correct one, so she rode to the security guard's booth.
How do I indicate what I am thinking right now as I write? Well, I want to say that my first urge was to use "target building" instead of "the correct one," the phrase used so much in tech media and in the plethora of martial TV shows: Cops, lawers/prosecutors, military, geez. Even the jargon of the National Security Police State apparatus has infiltrated motion picture media. By the end of the following paragraph, I will have already used "correct" three times, with this instance being the fourth. I could have used "the one he pointed out."
Jenessa later revealed that the guard did not help, perhaps even projecting passive ill will, making inimical remarks. In the meantime, I rode to the entrance of the building which I though was the correct one. You see, we were on the other side of these architectural marvels and I lost how to identify it as they looked so much different at this angle; They had appendages and garages tacked on to them to give them a disorganized appearance, I thought. I escorted my bike through the extraordinarily tall main door -- made out of exceptionally thick glass -- walking toward the male security guard who approached me.
- "you can't bring that bicycle in here,"
- "It's down there and to the right. Sure you can use it...around the corner"
- "Well, I don't need to use it, but my friend does. She's at the other building," thinking that I would tell Jenessa the good news.
- "If you go into that parking garage,..."
- "...make a right, then a left, you'll see a bike rack. You can put your bike there," he waved loosely.
- "Thanks," I smiled.
The guy arrived after about 20 minutes, running past us as he says, "I'll be just a minute. Let me get my truck." As he scoots past the female security guard, he announces, "They're with me. I am giving them a ride," and disappears into behind the wall.
After about twenty more minutes, he pull up through the gate in his huge truck and motions for us to bring our bikes to him. As we do, he quickly grabs Jenessa's and somewhat nervously fiddles with the bike rack.
- "I had to attach the rack just now. I had not used it a few months," explaining this, why?
A little while earlier, when Jenessa and I were waiting for him in the shade, she picked a cute yellow flower and ate it. I mindlessly asked, "it's edible?" so I picked my own and ate it, completely trusting that Jenessa knew what she was talking about and that we would not get sick. Well, I still held one of the flowers in my hand and offered it to him, saying, "Hey, did you know that those flowers are edible?" and thrust it toward him.
"I was raised on a farm and I ate all kinds of things but don't know anything about these flowers." But we knew. I guess he was not receptive to the suggestion of strangers, yet we trusted him with our lives. He could have been a kidnapper or someone like that.
Jenessa lectured,"forcing stuff on people does not convince them." I felt like a student. She would repeat that to me later on a similar occasion.
His paunch betrayed his likely generally sedentary lifestyle and his bearing was that of a quickly-moving small man. They did not fit convincingly which led me later to conclude that he may have been on some sort of uppers, legal, yes, since his Fundamentalist Christian outlook would likely have permitted him to get away with saying to himself, "Hey, I am not taking illegal drugs, so I can take as many legally prescribed drugs as I want and not feel as if I am betraying my Christian ideals."
I deduced something that was fishy about this man, and, later in the day as we were well on the way back, oh, I dunno, maybe in Anaheim, I opined to Jenessa about it and she surprised me with,
- "When did you figure this out?"
- "In the truck...as he was taking us to Main St. He mentioned 'mission' twice. He bragged about himself, his seemingly heroic accomplishments by his use of such words as 'mission' in 3rd World countries, mentioning Tanzania and Kenya three times in the context of his two climbs to its apex after doing his mission on the other side afterwards. Then after I remarked about a rarity in the middle of Orange County: A farm to our left, as we were passing it. I said, 'oh good, it's nice to see open acreage, undeveloped.' He said something like, 'Well, it could be better used for development and, besides, automotive exhaust is falling on the crops so, what do you want, a new development or suspect crops?''"
- "For a Christian perspective, it all evens out in the end."
End?," I thought.
- "Then, from a scientific perspective, we may be hurting ourselves, or something like that."
I felt as if he were busting at the seams to find an opportune moment to preach to us. I had that feeling. I think I had him pegged.
So he got us to the location where we would resume our urban foraging. My God? It seemed bleak even though I knew that it was merely the end of that same farm where Jenessa wanted to show and have me sample a surprising fruit forming a hedge planted, I guess, by the city since the other side of Main St. also had it. She warned me about the thorns. Oh my, like a person, or someone with which you fall in love but later you discover that person's pains. I did not stick myself at first, but then got three thorns -- which took about a week to disolver -- under my skin. The red fruit was surprisingly delicious. Jenessa pointed out the optimum state of the skin to assure the sweetest flavor. We began collecting and eating. I had fun, but I always was conscious of a layer of soil, or was it car exhaust, rubbing it against my bicycle shorts as if this would clean them. Well, at least I removed some of the residue.
- "Not too red. Not too green." she advised.
- "If it's too red, it will mush up at the bottom of the container and...."
But I did pick the reddest and they did mush up, but I washed them carefully back at my studio, taking care not to dissolve them under the running water. Yeah, they were tasty, sweet, and they did dissolve in my mouth. So unique was the fruit, that I decided that I would benefit by savoring them the whole week, so I stuck them in the fridge, winding up munching them, a little bit at a time on this unique treat.
You know, when he dropped us off -- I think his name was Dave --, well, seemingly in the middle of nowhere compared to his ritzy 15 story apartment palace, I wondered what he thought of us. He seemed detached as if on Ritalin, an amphetamine of sorts, as if carrying out a duty of a suffering Christian, or was he thinking of us as lost sheep?. Here we were, two people on bicycles, forty miles from home, late afternoon. Heh.
I suggest that money was his primary drug bolstered by the energy that a drug habit brings. Money seemed to have come into his portfolio fast and went out merely less fast.
- "I lost 74,000. the other day. This is as much as some people earn in a whole year. I am an investment banker, those people you hear about," he looked at me.
I wondered if he were conflicted with his engagement in this discipline, way of life. He drove a massive pickup truck, "as wide as a semi," he stated proudly. The logo inside said "Ford F-350," a four-door, one ton monstrosity with doors thick enough in which to store an emergency supply of canned food. It had super thick tires, tall, and wide. What for? The dashboard bulged out its chest as if to proclaim its dominance over the passenger. The seats were comfortable. I could tell that this vehicle was designed to intimidate anyone on the road whom it approached, and smash smaller vehicles while protecting the driver. There was not one scratch on it, so it was likely used only on paved roads; An End Times vehicle used on smooth streets, clearly a Type 1 personality truck intended to cow anyone him/herself before its jackhammer-like grill.
Later in the day,