The So Cal Kid and Highway 1

Definitely started getting sick yesterday and woke up to a cold today. I got started late and decided to hit the the Holy Roast coffee shop (I’d question the name but I don’t have the energy) in Santa Rosa before I left town. The kid behind the register looked like a Southern California version of a guy I worked with on Wizard of Oz. He had long braids, wide open brown eyes, a sweet manner, no ability to do his job and no awareness of a problem.

So Cal Kid: Good morning! Can I help you?

Me: Can I get an Americano and a yogurt parfait? And change for the meter?

SCK: Of course! Oh, wait. We don’t have much change. I may not be able to give you change.

Silent face off while I look at him working in a coffee shop surrounded only by metered parking with no change at 9AM and no options. He looks at me quietly. Sweetly. Silently. Probably just waiting for me to speak. So I did:

Me: can we make change out of your tip jar?

SCK: oooh, I don’t know. (He looks at his compatriot coffee maker. She must do all the heavy lifting in the thinking department. She nods.) Oh, OK!

He digs out change.

SCK: thanks so much! Have a great day!

Me: yogurt?

SCK: Oh right!

He gets yogurt out of the case. Sets it down. Walks away. I pick it up and it’s sticky all down the side. I go to the coffee station and they are out of napkins.  I go back to the front.

SCK: (sweetly) Good morning! Can I help you?

Me: Do you have napkins? I’m sorry. There aren’t any in the coffee station and it’s all sticky…

SCK: Oh goodness! Let me clean that off.

He does and returns it to me with napkins.

I pick it up and go back to the coffee station for a spoon. They are out of spoons. I go back to the front counter.

SCK: (sweetly) Can I help you?

(He seems to have a reset button wherein he neither remembers me nor gets annoyed nor has any ability to forsee my questions)

Me: I’m so sorry. Can I get a spoon?

SCK: Of course!

He brings me a spoon. By this point I have to feed the meter again because this process has taken 15 minutes and I only planned to be there for 30. I run out, leaving all my stuff in the shop, shove change into the meter and come back in with a flood of people. I sit down at my table and realize I never got my coffee.

!@)($(*@Y%B!!!!!

The very LAST thing I want is to see this kid again. Ever. But he’s plugged into a brain wipe and doesn’t remember that I exist or that I ordered coffee so I have to go back up and remind him.

He sees me come back up to the counter and get in line behind the flood of people but only attends to the kids in front of me. In every case, he rings people up, hands them change and cheerily tells them to have a good day while they stand there awkwardly and wait for him to remember that they ordered things. Then they remind him. Then he acts surprised, like “Oh, is that what we do here!?” and scrambles to get their food. But he’s so sweet natured about it that people laugh instead of getting annoyed. Is this a super power? I have to think so.

When I get up to the counter (now my 4th time in 20 minutes) he has that look that says he recognizes me but can’t figure out from where. Then he smiles:

SCK: can I help you??

Me: I ordered coffee.

SCK: Oh! Riiiiight.

Me: I didn’t get it.

SCK: Oh! Ok. Um. What was it?

I suppress a strong temptation to say “a pound of your most expensive coffee and a large Americano with 5 shots” knowing that he won’t remember and will just give it to me and wish me a great day (again). But his coffee compatriot sweeps him aside at this point and says, “Americano, right?”

Then she makes it.

Then she gives it to me.

And it takes about a minute.

Well, 26 minutes, actually. But about a minute of actual work on someone else’s part.

I fed the meter again, had breakfast and left.

Santa Rosa, I don’t know what you’re putting in your water but you might want to stop.

The rest of the day was long but beautiful. Here’s Highway 1 through northern California:

This little nondenominational meditation chapel sits outside Sea Ranch, CA. I don’t know what it’s supposed to resemble, but someone called it the “conquistador helmet church” and I like that.

Beautifully built by a local artist, both inside and out.

And then back to the ocean…

And the mountains:

Don’t you wish you’d been there?

Tomorrow: Redwoods

See you then.

Wherein California and I have a Come to Jesus meeting

California, I want a word with you about your driving conditions.

Your Highway 1 is gorgeous. So pretty that it took me all morning to go 50 miles because I kept stopping to look at misty morning views like this:

And this:

And then this, up in the cliffs high above the sea.

Breathtaking. I got so enamored with the view that I drove past that sign that said “highway 1 closed 37 miles up ahead” without taking a moment to consider those implications. I had a passing thought that I would have to reroute when I got to the closure but I didn’t think any further about it.

California, I know. That’s my fault. Stay with me and I’ll get to the part that’s your fault.

I got those 37 miles up ahead, passing the only inn/gas station/restaurant for 50 miles, elated with the views and the weather and the ocean only to encounter a construction guy with a stop sign. He stopped each car and talked to them individually after which cars turned around and headed back down the mountain. Then he got to me:

Construction guy: Hi there miss. Where you going?

Me: Monterey

CG: Nope.

Me: Nope?

CG: Nope. A rock slide took out the road. Highway’s closed. You’ll have to go back down. Where’d you come from?

Me: Morro Bay

CG: Right. You’ll have to go back there, well, almost back there and take 46 and go over the hill to 101 and then take 101 to Monterey.

Me: Back. To where I started. This morning. 2 hours ago.

CG: Sorry about it. But this highway’s all in the sea now. It’ll be closed for awhile.

And so I turned around and drove back down the mountain, less elated with the gorgeous views and wondering how much more time it would take to get to Monterey. As I passed the inn and looked at my gas gauge, I figured I’d get some gas since it would be awhile before the next town.

$5.49 a gallon.

CALIFORNIA! Your prices are high but that’s a dollar higher than your highest price down below. Isn’t that gouging? I’m not entirely sure what gouging means but I think this is it and I’m pretty sure it’s illegal!

I bought 3.5 gallons to get me to the next station and it cost me $20 with taxes!!!

After this assault, I drove back down the mountain, finally found 46, drove merrily along and then stopped dead because the road turned into an alternating one way street due to unadvertised road work. After getting stuck for an undetermined number of minutes and then driving through the construction, I drove the rest of 46 only to get to 101 and find one lane blocked off with traffic cones for 5 miles for NO REASON. No construction, no guys working, no ripped up pavement, just cones, some of which were now scattered in the only working lane by motorists deciding to disregard them and use the blocked off lane anyway!

California, you still listening? Because I’ve finally gotten to the part that’s about you. Pray attend:

1. If a rock slide closes a highway, that’s useful information to know before I get there. “Road closed” won’t stop motorists the way “Road missing” “Road vanished” or “Road fell into the sea” will.

2. If there’s no alternate route close to said rock slide, and you had the time to post a sign that the road is closed, it would be helpful to also note that I’m passing the only alternate route before I go 74 miles out of my way!

3. If the only alternate route for 100 miles is undergoing road work, isn’t that important information for me to know before I whip around a blind corner and nearly slam into a stopped line of cars?

4. If you need to close a lane in the road, at least put construction vehicles on it so you look busy and productive. Otherwise we think you’re kidding and we’ll drive on it anyway.

That’s all. Yes, you can go. Please do better next time.

Geez… some people’s kids. Sorry you all had to be around for all that.

More tomorrow. With less griping.

See you then.