This weekend I found myself embroiled in the true meaning of futility. ‘Silly woman,’ you might say, ‘Everyone knows the meaning of futility.’ To which I would answer this: You know not what futility is until you are on your way to a meeting and get caught in a giant herd of stoners.
Allow me to explain.
This Saturday I had a meeting with my writing group in San Francisco. I got up that morning, packed and, oblivious to anything special about the date other than it was about a week till my husband’s birthday and I had a meeting to get to, hit the road. The drive was business as usual until I hit the middle of Oakland, at which point everything ground to a halt. I inched along, keeping myself sane by telling myself commuter fairytales- ‘It’ll lighten up after this next exit, next interchange, next shopping center.’ But no, it took an hour to creep slowly, painfully to the bridge.
It was a beautiful day and even in horrendous traffic, crossing into San Francisco is pretty glorious. So, resolving to stay calm, I rolled down the windows, turned up the radio, and soaked ocean breeze into my Central Valley pores. Only on this day there was something different in the salty ocean air.
Weed. And tons of it. I really cannot overstate the amount of people who were getting high in their cars around me. A convertible to the left. An SUV in front of me. A dumpy red sedan to the right. And then on the radio, there’s an announcement from a DJ wishing everyone a happy 4/20.
So there you go. I was driving into San Francisco along with all the stoners who were headed to Golden Gate park for a big smoke-out on 4/20 at….get this…. 4:20. I know, right? Mind blowing.
Everyone around me was super stoked in a really laid back way. Every once in a while they would see someone else smoking and yell “Hey! 4/20!” To which the other person would do this smile, head-bob thing.
I didn’t get a chance to chat with any of my fellow bridge traversers that day, but I’m going to venture to guess that they all felt like they were engaged in this really counter-culture, ‘sticking it to the man’ kind of thing. But when you think about it, tons of people traveling to the same location to inhale the same substance at a pre-ordained time is very creepy and group-thinky. It’s not raging against the man. It’s just listening to a different man, only one that reeks of bong water.
Needless to say that just as I was about to exit Duboce, I got an apologetic message letting me know that the meeting was over. My six hour journey was for nothing.
There was a time in my life when this whole episode would have put me over the edge. I would have cried and pounded on the steering wheel or just driven right back home since the day was ruined anyway. But instead, even though I was drained and exhausted, I just felt grateful. At least my kids weren’t with me. At least I had stopped to pee earlier instead of waiting. At least I would still get to stay the night at my friend’s house.
So I drove to the Ferry Building, ate some fish tacos and drank a beer. Then I walked along Embarcadero for a while, alternating between watching the boats and watching the people; eventually making my way to my friend’s house.
Probably the most delicious bit of irony in this whole experience is that while I missed out on my meeting, the pot-heads who were on the bridge with me all made it to theirs right on time.