Things of the Night

It was a strange night a few days ago. I was in Hayes Valley, visiting a girl I had been on a few dates with, to unfortunately break it off. Expecting the unexpected, I was rather surprised when all the points that seemed to be a problem for me were the exact same for her. It was bizarre to say the least, but we both felt relieved getting it out of our systems and proceeded to then have one of the longer chats we’ve ever had.
It was the walk back that proved even more out of the ordinary. I was strolling at a pretty fast pace as I’m not one for the “scenery” on Van Ness with the exception of the buildings right around City Hall. I hit what must have been Geary when a guy across the street hung up his cellphone and cursed. As I crossed the street, he said, “Excuse me, do you live around here?” He was dressed in a rather nice suit and had a good cellphone, so despite the fact it was 11 at night, I answered back, “Sure, do you need directions somewhere?” “No, unfortunately not. My family and I are on our way to Eureka… do you know where that is?” I nodded, having been in Eura-tweekah unfortunately and I was expecting the sob story to follow where he needed gas money. He went on, “We were carjacked at gunpoint down in East Palo Alto, this horrible place.” Which of course it pretty much is, especially when compared to the massive wealth on the other side of the tracks. “The police recovered the car, but these guys took everything. We haven’t got a damn thing and we need to get out of town.” The inevitable bit was coming up. “I need $12 for a gas can and some money for gas so that we can fill up the car.” Naturally, being the jaded San Franciscan who gets asked for money 15 times from the Powell Station to my apartment, I started to get hesitant. But, for some reason, even though it seemed like there were large holes in his story, I gave him $20. He kept saying how I was the only person who stopped and listened to him, which is definitely something someone from outside town would notice if they were in need because we who live here are for the most part super unfazed by panhandlers. And then there was the fact he wasn’t dressed like a bum, which was emphasized as I walked away and some shabby dude asked me for change on Polk Street.
The way I figure it, the worst thing is that I lost $20, which is a lot less than what I’ve lost doing other things. If there is some grain of truth though, then I’ve really helped out someone who was in a really bad spot and that is good. If he was shaking me down, it will probably come back on him somehow, besides the fact that he would be doing that to make a living. Who knows, although I kinda wish I knew one way or the other what the real truth was. I mean, who stops in EPA on their way up to Tweekah? Such a strange story that I’ll probably write different versions of in my head until I let it go.