Riding the streets of San Francisco before the sun rises to my café job, I coast through the stop signs of the city's second Chinatown I live in, ride underneath the Bay trees in Arguello's bike lane and up past the tiered Victorians that line the ridge between the city that undulates to the South and the city that drops deep to the Bay to the North. 

Down below, the water takes the reflections of the city’s lights and sends them out with the tide, stretching them,  pushing them towards the chute of the Golden Gate and finally sending them bobbing out to the Pacific.

At some point closer to downtown, however, the rolling reverie of San Francisco at dawn goes downhill, literally and figuratively, and my trusty bike and I hit traffic.

Black-painted Google buses look for riders to board to go to Googleland, that magical place where lobster, ironed laundry and massages descend out of the ether; blue Ebay buses hurtle down Van Ness in order to escape the reality that their goods are not as good as Google's; city buses otherwise known as The Muni creep up San Francisco’s hills or call it quits on finding riders, sighing into the bus stops. 

While Google doesn’t see the need to exercise their advertising prowess brick-and-mortar style on the side of a bus, the Muni has to make up for their serious free-rider problem by wrapping themselves in banners about every other week.


Scoping out the latest ad campaign, my original impulse is to laugh, take a picture and send it to the ongoing Family Group Text of blizzards in Boston, crab catches in San Francisco, and the entourage of hens making their committee rounds back home to ensure that the horses are in their proper spots, the problem dogs on their leashes and the noble Whiskey dog is presiding over the barnyard politics with a wisdom beyond her years but not beyond their jurisdiction.
 Reality, however, hits a few blocks down.

I’m not going to the café to sit at my computer and draw cartoons.

I’m going to serve the coffee.


Considering this uncomfortable fact, I determine to do something about it.

I do what anyone incapable of holding down a real job does once they've convinced themselves after complicated contortions and lousy logic that they really ought to get themselves a real job. I pull out my pen, title a notebook “McCullough gets a J—O—B,” and begin filling it with cover letters that would never get me a one. 

Somewhere along the way, hopeless cases always start gathering advice. In this particularly forlorn one, Dad ponies up first.

Meanwhile, back in San Francisco, my brother takes a slightly different tact.

And so in a noble effort to make good on my Real Job Resolution, I have sat at the bay window for the past three months and stared at the puny saucer magnolia tree trying to make it in the concrete outside our house and made metaphors about the saucer magnolia tree and me stuck as we are in concrete, and not at all finished my cover letters, which is why Elephant Souls has not been very elephant-sized lately.

And here at the end of it, I am just about ready to take the last advice I’ve gotten.



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