My New Friend: The Guy on the Bike (whose name I don’t remember)

For those that know me well, you are quite aware of my natural inclination to make friends with anyone, anywhere, and at anytime.

This day was no different.

On the pursuit of wrapping up a 25-mile ride to Mill Valley and back, I had just crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and powered through the seemingly hardest, yet not steepest, hill on the ride (the right-hand ‘mini’ hill after the bridge, where one starts to feel the effects of the Golden Gate’s wind brigade).

After the hill, you have to take a right and then an immediate SNEAKY left. On this ‘sneaky’ left is where I met my new friend, whose name I unfortunately cannot remember. HOWEVER, our friendship in light of the ‘name amnesia’ kindles a conversation on what a friend IS as opposed to an acquaintance. Though I know many, many people, not many make it into the ‘friends’ group.

So what was it that made me build a friendship with this seemingly stranger, even though I still– to this day– do not know his name? Well, in 3 seconds of observing each other we experienced a threatening situation which immediately built a bond.

Moments after making a left, my soon-to-be friend made his ‘sneaky’ left and was nearly killed by a car. The roads were busy that day (i.e. tourists were out). Unfortunately while tourist may be good for the local economy, they can be a hazard to lifestyles and safety of locals; unfamiliar with the winding, undulating roads, driving tourists make horrible driving decisions.

As my ‘soon-to-be-friend’ was making his left, a car nearly wiped him out; however he made it over to the side street where I was just in the nick of time. Riding just a second behind me, he said, “Can you believe that guy! There are too many fucking cars out on the road!” I couldn’t empathize with him more– my ride had been dodgey the whole way.

I said, “Yeah, I was nearly hit twice in Sausalito!” (true story).

From there we biked together, sharing tales of our ride….. and lives.

My new friend, a 55-year old man, was a retired brick layer. His father was a brick layer, and so was his grandfather– all of whom had worked and thrived in San Francisco.

We talked about the economy, about health care, about how the city was changing beneath his own feet (not necessarily for better or for worse). We shared deep experiences that related to changes in our careers and health, and how to achieve our personal aspirations. All of this occurred from the Golden Gate Bridge until the end of The Panhandle, which is when we realized that we lived in the same hood. Upon this discovery, he asked me, “What’s your cafe?”

A classic question for this burgeoning hood.

I said Cafe Abir, which at the time I thought made the best Americanos and always offered an available seat (writers like to work from cafes), however they played terrible music. Turns out my new friend was a regular at Abir as well.

Perhaps coffee is the pathway to friendship.

This city makes me smile every day.

p.s. Although Cafe Abir makes poor music decisions, they make a wicked Americano… just saying.