Upsetting
Friday, January 02, 2004
 
Rest assured the men who clean the Banana Republic windows in the driving San Francisco rain do not shop at the Union Square store. As a matter of fact, one of the men tells you they wouldn’t be caught dead in the glowing shop.

They don’t highlight their hair.

But it’s just a like a punker kid streaking his hair blue or like a skunk, someone else says. These men who look like their chocolate got stuck in someone’s peanut butter only paint the ends of their hair to feel better about themselves. Maybe it’s their rebellion.

You disagree maybe, don’t like the men speckling their hair. You think these are the kind of guys who will someday drive Corvettes, color their beards like Kenny Rogers.

What does it really matter, though? To each their own.

Tell that to the man with his shoes off on the airplane, toes splayed into the aisle where you quietly wish the unsmiling flight attendant would roar by with that sturdy cart of hers. Men do that job, too, the flight attending, but when you conjure up the battleship-gray cart crushing into the man’s toes, it is a woman you envision at the cart wheel.

His feet and toes and socks and all that are more than you feel you should have to experience. You make notes to yourself, and you remind yourself that you will not let this stuff occupy your mind. People can’t be controlled, and the spiral of human consideration for one another is a downward one.

The man is wearing a soaking gray sweatshirt on the Grant Avenue corner, much heavier because of the rain saturation in the hood. But his neck is strong, and his hands are steady. This is not a trifling man, in the original sense.

He does not care about travel warnings or bare feet exposed on airplanes, lost baggage and twitchy glances toward the cockpit.

You cannot stand and wait for the lavatory at the front of the plane because of the Middle Eastern men, but don’t use that as a racist excuse.

The city weather does really change every block, but odds are the rain will keep coming for some time. Our friend cleaning the windows in the downpour seems oblivious to the relentless storm clouds blowing across the bay.
 
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