Picking up strangers


I’ve been picking up strangers, lately. A lot of strangers – sometimes 8 or 10 a week. Yes, the casual car-pool on Park Boulevard is really working out for me. Each morning, I nose my Prius into the line of vehicles waiting to pick up San Francisco-bound riders. Looking up from my newspaper, between sips of coffee, I see the orderly progression of passengers as they load up the cars. “I wonder who I’ll get,” I think, as I scramble to clear the clutter from the floor. The back seat flaps are great for hiding old banana peels and Kleenex. I can shove my papers in the hollow of the passenger door. Soon I’m at the front of the line. The next 2 riders are mine. A woman in a business suit opens my back door and steps in. Seconds later, a very tall man walks up. I’m surveying the leg room in the front as he folds himself in half like a pocket knife to get in. “I can adjust the seat,” I say, in my friendliest morning manner. “That’s okay,” he replies, “I’m still half asleep.” So I pull away from the curb and it’s apparent that no-one is in the mood to chat. “What’s the protocol, here,” I wonder, wanting to turn on the radio. It’s the morning after the recall and I’m dying to hear what they’re saying on KSFO. But the lady in the back seems depressed and the guy next to me is asleep. I hold off, driving in silence as I think it all through. I’m still new at this casual car-pooling thing, but as near as I can figure – riders are like guests. As long as they’re in my car, they should be comfortable.

Looking good: Those Raiders clean up pretty good when they’re not in their football uniforms. The Claremont Resort hosted Raiders on the Runway, last week, as a fund-raiser for the East Bay Agency for Children. “Romo” and Rice looked pretty nice in their sexy outfits from Bloomingdales. The flashing lights, the driving beat, the runway down the middle of the dining room – the fashion show was a class act that showcased some of my favorite Raiders, modeling with their wives and children. The players get only one day off a week during the football season. They made the most of this one, raising about $30,000 for EBAC.

Coming of age: I watched with interest, a few years back, when Sunrise Assisted Living was being built in the Oakland hills. They transformed a tired old shopping center into a beautiful complex at Skyline and Redwood Roads – across from the old Hills Newspaper office. So I eagerly grabbed the chance, the other day, to take a tour of the facility – and what a wonderful place to live! Each room is warm and inviting, with cozy corners for reading by the fire and game tables for playing cards. You can settle into winged chairs and watch wide screen TV, or go for a walk in the pastoral setting outside (with 2 horse stables across the street). It’s no wonder so many fascinating people live here, including the founder of Sports Illustrated. I should mention, too, that Sunrise is holding a Senior Resource Fair on Tuesday, October 21st from 2-5 pm. It’s open to the public with dozens of booths featuring flu shots, free hearing tests and computer lessons, as well as information on everything from banks to home care agencies. For more information, call 510-531-7190.

Rodeo Romance: With the Grand National Rodeo coming up at the Cow Palace October 24th through November 2nd, it’s the perfect time to mention this new book by my buddy, Alvin Guthertz. A prolific writer, Al’s new novel is called Magnets for Love – the story of a rough and tumble bull rider who falls in love with a refined horse show competitor. The story unfolds at the Grand National Rodeo and is full of colorful characters and stunning action. It’s available online at Barnesandnoble.com

Split personality: By day, he’s a Montclair Optometrist. By night, he’s a painter and set designer. Dr. Richard Jue, the owner of Viewpoint on Mountain Boulevard, is a fascinating man. His Asian art has been featured in the Oakland Arts Festival and in Mayor Jerry Brown’s “We the People” live-work space. But Jue does more than paint. His dance photography has been published nationally as well. You can see some of Jue’s work, this weekend, at the Hotel Triton in San Francisco. Or on the web at WWW.PROARTSGALLERY.ORG

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