A lot happened this weekend… but before I get to that, I guess I should start off by saying (especially according to other people), that I’m “pretty damn lucky to be alive or uninjured.” And I definitely owe David and Michelle A LOT. This all happened last night (and caused me to miss my Tuesday petrology class for the FOURTH WEEK IN A ROW!).
Anyway, my roommates decided to go to a bar in the Mission. I haven’t spent much time in the Mission district, but regardless, I thought it’d be fun. After a few drinks, I wasn’t feeling that social or wanting to spend much more money, so I decided to leave at 12AM. I told everyone goodbye and walked up the street to take the BART subway home.
Since my monthly bus pass only covers transit within the city/county of San Francisco, I had to get off at the Balboa Park stop (which is one stop short of where I ultimately wanted to be). I haven’t had much experience with the Balboa Park train/bus station though, so catching buses from there has been fairly confusing for me.
While waiting at a bus stop, I see a bus pull up across the street. I recognize it as the “91 Owl” (Owl designates that it’s an all-night running bus, whereas all other bus service in the city ends at 12:30AM). I know that the 91 has a stop down the street from my house, so I cross the street to board it.
The driver was still waiting to begin her shift but let me on anyway. We started chatting and she asked where I was going. I told her where my house was and she was surprised and said she wouldn’t be there for at least an hour (because the Owl buses run at longer intervals and have larger routes to cover at night)! She told me to run across the street to catch the next bus, as it would take me the way I was hoping, right by San Francisco State, where I could catch another 91 that would be closer.
I get off the bus and run across the street just in time to see a “29” turn the corner. I recognized that the 29 is one of the buses that stops across the street from my school, so I went ahead and boarded it, without asking where he was ultimately going. Since it was dark, I couldn’t really see, but after about 15 minutes of driving, I’m the only one left on the bus. He finally pulls over, opens the doors and says “last stop!”
Err, what? That’s bizarre. I don’t recognize this neighborhood at all and have absolutely NO clue where I was. It’s now 12:32AM. Most of the buses have stopped running too. Oh yeah, and I don’t have money for a cab.
“Really awesome situation you got yourself into Dave.” I thought. Anyway, I could see the lights of downtown San Francisco and the Bay Bridge quite a ways off in the distance. I figured I’d just start walking towards it.
After a few minutes, I crossed by a small park. The name of the park was the Bayview Playground.
I was right smack in the middle of Bayview-Hunters Point. Basically the worst neighborhood in San Francisco. If something bad happens in San Francisco, it happens in Bayview. It’s a mixture of unfortunate demographics and the location, as an old naval base is nearby and has had problems with toxic, as well as radioactive waste. Even Wikipedia states: “Residential development is slowed by the active industrial sector of the neighborhood, the last industrial area remaining in San Francisco. One of the poorest and most crime-ridden parts of the city, it has also been one of the few neighborhoods in San Francisco where gentrification has not occurred.”
Wonderful! I immediately called my sister, knowing that I’d probably wake her up. I nearly wanted to cry and desperately needed someone to talk to. She didn’t answer, so I left her a message.
Whatever, the only thing I could do was hope for the best and just trudge on. There was no way I was going to stay in one place. So I started walking. A few minutes later, my sister called. Evidentially, she had a “bad feeling” about my phone call (I swear she has some form of ESP) and check her messages, despite being asleep.
I told her my situation and where I was. She went on the internet and brought up Google Maps to try and tell me where I should go. I explained to her where I was and in which direction I was headed. Evidentially I was going in a totally different direction than what I thought, so she directed me the right way.
I told her thanks and that I should go… besides, I’d like to be able to hear if someone was coming up behind me. I also didn’t think it was very smart to be chatting loudly on a cell phone through that neighborhood. She said she wanted to try and pick me up, but she’d call back.
Onward I walked.
She called back a few minutes later and told me to keep walking up Third Street. She woke David up and they were both coming to get me. It’d take about 30 minutes for them to drive across the Bay from Berkeley (about 15 miles). All I could do was keep on walking.
I passed by some very shady neighborhoods, quite a few dive bars with a lot of people milling about, and a lot of industrial parks as well. A lot of areas weren’t very well lit, so it was hard to make out street signs… or even people in the dark. Definitely frightening. I was scared out of my mind, but I tried to just walk confidently and look alert.
Eventually, David and Michelle called. They were in the city, but they too were lost! The roads definitely do some crazy stuff in this part of the city. Finally, they were on Third Street, still a ways up from me.
They picked me up around 16th and Third. It was 1:45am and I had traveled 3.1 miles from where I started.
Oh man, I was so happy to see them. I was definitely shook up about the whole situation as well. They took me all the way home and I walked in the door just after 2AM.
All day today, I’ve been thinking about how bad it could have potentially been. One of my room mates told me of an engineering project they did at Hunters Point in broad daylight. He claims they had bullet proof bests and armed security! (Of course they probably were also loaded with lots of expensive equipment)
Definitely an emotionally taxing experience, thinking about what could have possibly happened.
Anyway, here is a map of all the locations. There are a total of 5 red dots that tell you where everything is/happened. You can view that here.