Technically I wasn’t leaving until 1:20 a.m. on the 14th, but I wanted to get to the airport early enough to snag a decent seat from Eva Air this time. Still, I had all day; I took my time packing my one suitcase and getting everything charged before Ken called me a Lyft over to Joe’s place. The Lyft driver was named Elizabeth, and she expressed not only great interest in street photography, but also great dismay that she had missed the festival. I told her some sites to visit and people to contact.
Joe and I walked around the neighborhood, stopping only for some mint iced coffee and to attempt to resurrect a small dead bird on the sidewalk with incessant flashing (It didn’t work). The light was excellent, and I don’t wonder why we see so many such shots in the HCSP queue. Joe had to go to a shoot in the afternoon, so I headed into a mall to look for some neat-o stuff to bring back to Taiwan. As I was walking into the basement level, I ran into Vineet, who was with his family. Our interaction was both brief and awkward. I emerged in back of the mall to find a Target where I could get some goodies, and I walked around both sides of Market while waiting for Joe to return; we met back up by the trolley cars at five, right near a Muslim man all in white was holding a sign reading “I come in peace.” A couple of white men had approached him at one point in a way that made me think there might be trouble, but either their intentions were honorable or the Muslim brother won them over.
Dinner was at a Vietnamese place, after which Joe. Just. Could. Not. Get. A. Ride. Drivers kept cancelling; one even claimed he’d already picked us up and dropped us off, without us ever even seeing the car. Eventually we got an Uber back to Joe’s place, where I picked up my stuff, and we headed out; Joe to the theater to see the latest X-men movie, and me to the Bart Station to catch a subway to the airport. In the station was a very good violin player, good enough to make me wonder if Joshua Bell was moonlighting again. But I couldn’t linger; I had to get out to SFO. I couldn’t help but feel, however, that I was just getting used to the place, not to mention the timezone, and now I had to leave.
The sun hadn’t set when I stepped off the subway at the international terminal, even though it was 8 p.m. Nobody was at the Eva counter, so I sat and charged stuff until a small crowd had gathered. When I got to the gate, I found that the only seat left was an exit-aisle window seat. That would do, though I’d prefer to have an actual window. Don and Gene were also at the airport at the time, but they were at one of the domestic terminals.
I again took my time, wandering over to the TSA line, dispassionately watching the somewhat desperate people in policesque uniforms trying to convince everyone that they had an important job to do, even though it was blatantly obvious that the whole thing was a big show. They even played a video for the people in line showing normal people going about their day and suddenly getting shot dead. The spot concerned human trafficking, but that was beside the point; they obviously want people to be as nervous and afraid as possible. Let people relax and think, and it won’t be long before they realize what a farce the whole thing is.
I opted out of the rapiscan machine, as usual. And, as usual, the short, squat woman in “uniform” called out, loudly and repeatedly, “MALE OPT OUT OVER HERE!” It took a while for someone to come, but I wasn’t in a hurry. I watched as some people were herded into the rapiscan machines, while others simply walked through the X-ray machine. “Can I do that?” I asked, pointing. “I was given a choice between a pat-down and the rapingscanning thingy, but it seems like lots of people are just going through the X-ray only.” Of course she ignored me; any answer would have implied some kind of safety concern was involved.
When the officer finally got around to groping, I almost thanked him for the massage. The moment did seem to call for a little levity, so when he told me to spread my arms, palms upward, I said in my best Jerry Seinfeld impression, “Ladies and gentlemen….I implore you!”
The officer was not amused. “Too old a reference?” I asked.
“That doesn’t happen,” he said. Ok.
I still had plenty of time before my flight, so I bought a sandwich and some yoghurt and sat at the gate listening to music. I hadn’t listened to music in a while, so it was even nice and more relaxing than usual.
Then boarding, squeezing into my seat, followed by 13 hours of watching animated movies, eating and sleeping. Too quickly, I am back in Taipei. I went straight to work, but I’ve been loopy all day. I just want to sleep, but I know that if I do, I’ll wake up at 2 a.m. and not get any more sleep. It’s weird to be back; it feels like the last week was all just a dream by now.