Tag Archives: just trying to get by


When I was nineteen I dropped out of school, sold what little stuff I had and moved to California to start an illustrious career as a barista. I was broke, lonely and lost. I was also free. No friends. No family. No obligations—except getting to work at 6 AM each day to open the coffee shop.

I took my job seriously. It was all I really had going on. I liked being there among the other recent California transplants and art students. They were slightly off and so was I. Life was just as it should be at such a young age.

I made minimum wage but I really worked for tips. I was amazed at the simple equation—I was friendly to people and they’d toss money in the jar. There was one regular in particular that would stop in early, order a small coffee to go and leave me a dollar—roughly a 95% tip for handing him a paper cup and telling him to have a good day.

Memories of my life twenty years ago came flooding back this morning when I stopped by a small coffee stand on my way to work. The ladies running  things were welcoming but not over the top. I ordered a simple cup of coffee, paid with cash and without thinking twice tossed a dollar in the tip jar. Smiling as I walked away, I felt good about life, the process of growing up and the fact that I had a dollar to spare for a kid that’s probably broke, lost and lonely.

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Bernal Sunset

No confusing thoughts. No unnecessary circular contemplation. Just an amazing sunset over San Francisco and a sincere reminder to enjoy each day of this strange life. I don’t know what we’re here, which way we’re supposed to be going or why I obsessively check Instagram 372 times a day, but the world in front of me looks pretty damn good on this sunny Friday morning. I hope you have a similar view.

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The law of gravity.

The number of homeless people in San Francisco is apparent everywhere you go. We live near a highway overpass, so I’ve grown to accept them as our neighbors. I say hello if we make eye contact and smile even if we don’t. They mind their business and I focus on mine. Life goes on. At least until it rains.

Sunday morning it was absolutely pouring. Gutters were overflowing with pools of water and garbage. Woody and I left our cozy confines to run outside for a quick bathroom break. He didn’t want to be out there and neither did I. He squatted and I scanned the area from the middle of the steep hill that leads to our place.

I noticed a guy digging through one of the trash bins a few doors down. Woody zeroed in on him as well as he leaned into one of the cans and lost his balance. This led to an urban avalanche. With the trash, recycling and compost bins all chained together, they all fell at once into a precarious stack. One misstep had toppled three containers, instead of one.

“Motherfuck you people!”

The guy yelled up toward the apartments after inching his way out of the mess.

Standing there in the rain thinking about his life, I felt rotten about 1000 different things all at once. I wondered if there was anything I could do that would make his day better in any way at all. And like any lame civilian, I decided it was best to just leave the situation alone. We inched our way back up the hill and cursed the rain. We took cover in our comfortable home.

An hour later, the the clouds cleared and the sun came out. Woody and I headed back outside for a real walk. On the way down the hill, we passed the triple stack bin situation and I wondered if the homeless guy we’d been watching earlier was perched somewhere nearby watching us.

Triple Stack

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