a good man: a blogher '08 story

On my first full day in San Francisco, I spent the early part of the day playing tourist. A highlight was a visit to City Lights Book Store.
When I am away on my own, my kids and my spouse are never very far from
my mind and this wonderful and historic book store seemed like as good
a place as any to buy them some presents.

And
so I did. I bought an armload of stories that I had never seen anywhere
else and put them all in canvas bag with the store's name on it. I left
the store feeling very pleased with myself.

I schlepped those books from North Beach to Union Square, for the orientation session for BlogHer speakers. But before going out for dinner and on to the various BlogHer welcome receptions, I stowed all my stuff in Babz's room in the hotel, so that I wouldn't have to carry them or risk losing them. Again, I felt very pleased with myself.

I
had a lovely evening. I don't handle crowds of new people very well but
there is something to be said for hitching yourself to an extrovert and
just enjoying the experiences. And so I basked in Babz's glow and met
some wonderful people at the Speakers' reception. I even won the door
prize, a Nintendo DS.

As
that party wound down, we headed up to the Newbie party for BlogHer
first-timers. I demurred, as I was not a newbie but someone convinced
me that I could play a role in welcoming the newbies. It sounded good
to me, and besides it was in a rooftop bar with a beautiful view. I
had expected to make the evening a short one, as I was jet-lagged and
feeling the three hour time difference. I also had to commute out to
friends' place where I was staying in Oakland. But it wasn't until we
arrived at our third party
of the evening (in yet another part of the hotel) that I realized that
I had hit a wall (and that the room was just too packed for me). I left
that party as quickly as I had entered it and headed back up to Babz's
room to get my stuff.

Babz walked me down to the taxi stand (it was too late for me to feel safe walking home from the BART in Oakland) and saw me get off safely.

It was at that point that I realized that I was more than a little drunk. As
I had been busy socializing all evening, the bar had been open and my
glass was always full. And somehow it hadn't occurred to me to get
someone to fill my glass with water.

I
managed to slur out the address in Oakland to my cab driver, a young
man who was really very nice. When I couldn't tell him how to get to my
destination, he first called a friend and then used his Blackberry to
call up a map. He had to use it again when I couldn't tell him where to
exit off the freeway (something I could not have done even if I were
sober. I am a terrible navigator).

While
he drove, we chatted a little bit. I told him about the conference. He
told me that he didn't usually like to drive to Oakland but that he was
doing it for me because I "seem like a nice person."

"I am a nice person," I enthusiastically replied.

We were both relieved and happy when he dropped me off in front of my friends' building and we wished each other well.

In
the middle of the night (skipping over the part where I locked myself
out and had to wake my hosts who I had only met the day before so that
they could let me in), I woke with a start and registered the fact that
I know longer had the City Lights bag.

I
tip-toed down the hall and back out to the street to see if I had left
the bag on the front stoop (where I had sat while I had been trying to
sober up), to no avail.
Nor did Babz find
the bag in her room. My receipt didn't have the name of the taxi
company (and I couldn't remember). I checked twice with hotel security
(in case it had been found and dropped off there) and with the lost and
found table for BlogHer. By Saturday, I had given up and was trying to
decide if I should return to City Lights and attempt to replace the
presents I'd bought.

Then, on Saturday, as I was being miked for the session at which I was speaking, I heard my name being called. "I was your taxi driver," he said. And on his arm was bag full of books.

"How did you find me?"

He made typing motions with his fingers. "Your name was on your credit card slip."

I was euphoric.

I asked him if I could hug him.

I offered him money (he refused).

Babz took his picture (which I won't post here because it doesn't do him justice).

And everyone made a big fuss.

"I was in the neighbourhood," he said, modestly.

But I know that he went to great lengths to track me down. He googled my name to find my blog. My last post
had said that I was going to the BlogHer conference. I had linked to
the BlogHer agenda, so he must have read it to find my name and the
title of my session (I had told him that I was speaking). He then came
to the hotel, checked the directory and followed the labyrinthine
corridors to find me.

I am so
touched by what he did. I wish that there had been something I could
have done (I could have insisted on giving him money but I felt like it
would embarass him). His name is Eduardo and he is a lovely man.

The
next time I have the chance to something nice for a stranger, I will
think of Eduardo. I encourage all of you to do the same

And yes, I really did behave myself for the rest of the conference.

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