Buying a Ticket for a Ferry

San Francisco. A beautiful city. For the most part. Because of the contrasts it offers. Extreme contrasts. But, that’s a story for another occasion.

My participation at a conference I was attending was done, so I decided to take the afternoon off. A friend suggested I should go to Sausalito for a nice stroll through a beautiful town, and a dinner in a bay-side seafood restaurant with a view of the San Francisco skyline. Who wouldn’t want to do that? So, I did.

But to get there, you must take a ferry. Well, you don’t have to. There is always the Golden Gate Bridge. But not for me. I love water. So, a ferry it is.

I walk all the way to the port building, even though it is 102 degrees outside. Some kind of a record for San Francisco, even though yesterday was even worse. 104, so they say.

I locate the Information board, high above, struggling to maintain my balance against the river of tourists and the locals who are rushing to their destination without regard for a person who has no clue where to go and what to do next.

Luckily, the first thing on the information board says, in big letters, Sausalito. Great, but what time? Oh, right next to it says: Next ferry at 2:50pm. What time is it now? 2:42pm.

2:42pm???? Really? Are you kidding me? What about the next one?

An hour later. Oh nooooooo. I have to make this one.

I look around for the ticket counter. Nothing, just the same river of tourists flowing back toward me, as if they have nothing else to do but to make my life even more hectic than it is. Thanks guys.

I turned around, and right behind me there is an Information desk for the Bay sightseeing company. Great. They should know. I’ll ask them.

There is a guy attending the booth. But, he is busy talking to an older gentleman with a map. They both are pointing to the map, trying to sort out the differences of spatial opinion. I look at the clock. 2:43pm. 7 more minutes to buy the ticket and to find the ferry.

I decide to give them a minute to finish the conversation. I can be a nice guy. Occasionally. Perhaps. Maybe. A big maybe.

2:44pm. I squirm nervously. The guy with the map has more questions. AND, he ask them sooooo sloooowly. God! Seriously???

Suddenly, he stops. He is looking at his map intently, deep in thoughts. An opening. Great. I move closer to the attendant and open my mouth, ready to ask THE QUESTION, when he gives me the look. THE look. You know, the one that says: don’t you dare, you bastard, to interrupt me when I am talking to a client. A CLIENT.

2:45pm. 5 more minutes. Desperate times now. I look around again and see two uniformed guys, policemen, security guards, whatever. Uniforms are good. They should know everything. EVERYTHING.

“May I ask you a question?”

“Sure.”

“Where is the ticket counter for Sausalito?”

“There is one inside and one outside, which one do you …” I have to cut him off. Soooo sorry. “THE CLOSEST,” I say urgently. It is 2:46pm.

“Well, go outside, and you will see it.”

“Thank you,” I say, as I am running away. Not sure they heard any of it.

I am outside. Even more people. No ticket counter. What??? I turn to the left. Only restaurants, coffee shops, and a bookstore. And people. More people.

I turn to the right. Nothing. Looks like a construction zone. Then I notice people disembarking from a ferry. A FERRY. Good. The ticket counter must be there. But where? I start going toward the people leaving the ferry, but then I notice arrows on the ground, pointing toward me. A one-way, exit-only traffic, it says. What? Were is MY way then? I look up in desperation, and it says, in BIG letters, Ticket Counter to the right. Finally. What time is it? 2:47. F#*k. No, I did not say it. My mom would not approve. But, I wanted to scream it, like in the movies.

I follow the arrow around the corner. There are some machines. They look like ATMs. I don’t have time for that now. I need a human being. Someone who will understand desperation. And questions about one-way vs. two-way ticket. And discounts. And credit cards. And where the damn ferry might be. And how to get there. And … You get the drill.

There is also a booth that looks like a person occupied it at some point in time. But, the booth is empty now. It says, in big letters, USE THE MACHINE. Oh, God, why me????

So, the machine it is. There are 2 of them. One says CASH, the other says CREDIT CARDS. Great, another choice to make. Which one is the closest? The credit cards one. That’s the one.

But, there is a gentleman there, looking at it intently, trying to figure out what to do. I look at the other machine, but it is occupied too. I turn to the person at the credit card machine and ask: “Can you please help me use this machine? I am late.” My voice clearly sends a message of agony and desperation, all wrapped up in a look that says “I am not responsible for my behavior.”

“No, I can’t figure it out, but go ahead since you are in a hurry.” “Thanks,” I say and hastily place myself in front of the screen. How hard can it be?

12 BUTTONS???? Perhaps fewer, but my mind is not helping either. Everything seems to be a blur now.

OK, I can do this. Take a deep breadth. Let’s look at the screen.

There is nothing on the screen. NOTHING.

What do you mean there is nothing? What are my options? Choices? I need to push something. Some buttons. ANY BUTTON, PLEEEEEASE.

Then, I realize that the sunlight is blinding the screen. So, I press my nose to the screen and block the side gaps with my hands. Something appears on the screen. But it is barely visible. I press my nose even further. Did not know it was possible to make it flat. Now I know.

“Do you see anything,” the guy next to me asks. I see only the first choice and it says SAUSALITO. Good enough. I push the button next to it, the top one on the left side. A new screen pops up and says: “How many tickets?” It show’s some arrows, up and down. No clue how to select. So, I push the same button again. It worked once before, perhaps it is my lucky day.

IT WORKED!!! The number of tickets selected now says: 1 ticket. Another screen pops up and says: “Want to pay now? Press the Red button.”

GREAT.

Where is the red button? I unglue my nose from the screen and look around. No red button. NO RED BUTTON??? 2:48pm. #$@%.

I turn to the guy and ask: “Do you see a red button?” He looks around and checks the same gadgets on the same machine that I just did and says: “I sure don’t.”

What am I missing? What am I missing?

Perhaps it is one of the choices on the screen? But, I DON’T SEE them. The nose back to the screen. Even tighter now. Look around, look around. Wait, what is that in the lower right corner? Does it say Pay? Yes, IT DOES. Is it red? God, I sure hope so. PUSH IT. I did.

The new screen pops up and it reads: THIS SESSION HAS BEEN TERMINATED DUE TO INACTIVITY.

F$%F$#$F^%F$#$F%^%F$$%F^%%F$$^F%#$!!!

I start over. Left top button. Again. Then, the bottom right button. The screen pops up: PLEASE INSERT YOUR CREDIT CARD.

A VICTORY.

YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!

I take my credit card out and put it into the card slot opening. Then I push it in. It makes its way in, but less than a third of an inch. I try harder. It goes a little bit further, but not by much. I try to take it out just to make sure that I will not lose it. It does come out, but it requires a hard pull to liberate it from the jaws of the card-eating slot.

The screen beeps: THIS SESSION HAS BEEN TERMINATED DUE TO INACTIVITY.

Ohhhhhh, God!!! Not again.

Rinse and repeat. All the steps again. The same outcome.

2:49pm.

The guy next to me says: “ I will just go around.”

Around? There is AROUND?

I walk to the other side of the machines and what do I see? A person, checking tickets.

A live person! Finally!!!

There are many people in front of him, people with tickets, trying to get into the waiting area (standing really) to get onto the ferry.

At this point I cannot afford to be a nice guy. I yell across the people: “Is this a ferry for Sausalito?”

“Yes.”

“Where do I buy a ticket?”

“From the machine.”

“I tried. It is not working. It is not taking my card.”

“ Try the other one.”

“Which other one?”

“The one to your right, sir.” This sir thing hurts. I know what it means. It means “Can’t you see it, you moron? It is right next to you.”

Of course, there is another set of ticket machines, this time in the shade. I don’t notice people any more. I just see the machines. There are two of them. It is all familiar by now—one for credit cards and one for cash transactions. I try the credit card one again. I repeat the process. Don’t even have to look at the screen. I know it by hart—upper left button, push it again, lower right button.

PLEASE INSERT YOUR CREDIT CARD.

I do.

The card does not go in. Nope. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nothing.

I have no more patience. I push the card in. Hard. I slam it. I don’t care if I don’t see it any more. Ever again.

The almighty screen says: PLEASE INSERT YOUR CREDIT CARD.

F$%F$#$F^%F$#$F%^%F$$%F^%%F$$^F%#$!!!

F$%F$#$F^%F$#$F%^%F$$%F^%%F$$^F%#$!!!

F$%F$#$F^%F$#$F%^%F$$%F^%%F$$^F%#$!!!

I try to pull the card out. It is slippery. It is not coming out. It is happy in its new home.

I try with both hands. Nothing.

Both hands on the card, one foot on the machine, sudden lurch outward.

The card is free.

Are you kidding me? Cool. Way cool. A small victory.

2:50pm. Still no ticket.

Am I late? I look at the “Sir” guy. “Am I late?”

“Don’t you see that I am still checking people in?

I have no time for a fight. I let him be.

Cash it is. Do I have any?

Yes.

The other machine. I repeat the process. It goes smoothly.

PLEASE INSERT YOUR CASH.

I insert a $20 bill.

PLEASE TAKE YOUR TICKET AND CHANGE.

The change is $8. In coins. All of them. Seriously?

Back to the “Sir” guy. “Where is the ferry?”

“Right in front of you.”

“This huge line of people?”

“Yes.”

“Will we all make it in?”

“Yes.”

“Here is my ticket.”

“Scan it.”

“Where?”

“Right here.”

“I don’t see a scanner.”

“Here, where it says: Sausalito.”

“It is a piece of paper, not a scanner.”

“Do you want to get on the ferry or not?”

“Yes, I do, believe me.”

“Scan it.”

“But it is a damn paper.”

“It is a damn scanner.”

“Will you show me, please?”

He waves my ticket in front of the paper that says Sausalito.

The machine beeps.

He says: “Here you go, SIR.”

I’ll be damn.

I join the crowd waiting for the ferry. They start moving. 2:52pm.

At the entrance to the ferry I see the attendant. Just to be sure, I ask: “Is this a ferry for Sausalito?”

He says, “Yes, Sausalito, New Mexico.”

I freeze. He laughs. I smile.

At last someone with a sense of humor.

2:53pm.

Time

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As I was growing up
No one ever told me
That the greatest gift,
The greatest possession
That I will ever have
Is the time
Available to me.

And now,
When I am running out of it,
When every second is more precious
Than the one before,
I am looking for courage
To use it
Right.

To learn
To sing
To dance
To laugh
To give
To love
My way.

Pogled (A Look)

IMG_3970

Pogled (Bosanska verzija)

Šetali samo ulicama Biograda na moru
Navečer
Iza ponoći
U sredini ljeta

Noć je bila lijepa
Mjesec visoko na nebu
Kafići puni mladosti
Muzika, glasna, mami sluh, izaziva dušu

Gužva i žamor odjekuju šetalištem
Djeca traže sladoled, igračku, pažnju
Miris mora
Koraci odmora

Kretnja
Osmijeh
Zvuk
Svuda

A onda iznenada
Među tom masom
Na keju
Stariji par
Sjedi
Miran, nepomičan
Bez riječi
Sa pogledom
Praznim
Možda sjetnim
Negdje tamo daleko
U noć
Ili vrijeme, neko davno
Ili iza

 

A Look (English version)

We walked the streets of Biograd at Sea
In the evening
After midnight
In the middle of Summer

The night was beautiful
The moon high in the sky
Cafés full of youth
Music, loud, enchanting the ear, enticing the soul

A crowd and noise fill the beach walk
Children pleading for ice cream, a toy, attention
The smell of a sea
Steps of vacation

Movement
Laughter
Sounds
Everywhere

And then, suddenly
In the midst of this crowd
At the base of the pier
An older couple
Sitting alone
Quiet, motionless
Without a word
Both looking away
With en empty look
Perhaps wistful
Somewhere out there
Into the night
Or time, past
Or beyond

My Father

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A long time ago I came back to my homeland
to see my parents, friends, family, the mountains, and the sea;
to hear the music, to smell the scents;
to imagine, to ponder.

One day, I went to the Old Town to buy music,
with my father by my side, struggling, breathing heavily.
We went to one of the few stores where the CDs were authentic,
as life should always be.

He let me peruse the CDs on my own, without influencing my choice,
just observing me, fearing to miss a moment of our time together,
precious time, rare time, fleeting time, as I lived abroad, 
far from his reach and touch, connected with occasional phone calls. 

After seeing me hesitate, not finding what I was looking for,
he offered haltingly, tenderly, quietly, his advice:
Perhaps Saban Bajramovic, a gipsy singer, 
He is very good, my father said.

I looked into his eyes and saw the hesitation, 
the fear that he intruded,
the hope that he might be helpful.
I said, let me listen, and I put the CD on.

Yes, he is excellent, a beautiful, rich, raspy voice, a marvel, I said,
but not what I was looking for.
He said OK, his voice quiet, the demeanor more uncertain,
he continued waiting until I was done.

This moment never left me. I realized immediately how insensitive I was,
how immature I was, despite my youth long gone 
to defend me in the many sleepless nights that followed, 
and still do.

It does not help that I since discovered how perfect his advice was,
how incomparable Saban Bajaramovic is.
Not out of sense of guilt,
but due to the time that was gifted to me to listen, truly listen.

It does not help that this instance reminded me of how often I did this,
exactly this,
to not take the time to listen
to the voice of my father, who only had his love to offer me. And he did.

The sense of guilt is unbearable,
growing. It will never stop.
I deserve it, I know. But this time I listen, and cherish, this pain of guilt, 
grateful for his love, growing in this, unexpected way.

A Song

climbing-1148883_1920.jpg

A night
Beautiful and peaceful
With shy clouds, pretending wind, and hesitant rain
Punctuated with laughter, cigar puffs, and quiet conversation
Among family and friends
In the backyard
Distinguished by the fountain
The sound of water contesting our voices
Caressed by the music from our homeland.

With the moon past its prime
We decided to part
And with others already gone
While turning off the music
A sound like no other 
Filled the air
And
Stopped me
In the middle of the movement
Frozen
Unable to detach
Or think
Or comprehend
Just the feeling
Remained
And filled 
The soul
With sorrow
Remembrance
And
Guilt.

The lyrics spoke of wind
Rain
And trees by the shore
That obeyed the will
Of the wind
As the lover 
Waited for his love
To come to
His grave
While the music
Longing and wilting
Shimmering and soughing
With a guitar and a violin
At the source
Enveloped the words
Carrying them
To my heart.

The song passed through the air
And the mind
On its way to eternity
And nothingness
Long before my senses
Realized it.
And then
In the moment of utter despair
Wishing to recreate
The fleeting sensation
Of passed wrongs
Needing to be corrected
I pushed the button
To repeat
Again
And again
Many times
Still frozen
In time
And place
Until
Hours later
I realized
That 
What is done
Is done.

Have I learned anything?

The song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrC3t_mnzGc

The Courage to Be Yourself, v.1.

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Growing up
Everyone seemed more
Interesting
Popular 
Or
Deserving
Than me.

I wished I could be
Like them
Or be them
Any of them
All of them.

I tried
To please them
All the time
Until 
I lost all the notion
Of myself.

And now
I am trying to find
Myself
Anew
In the abyss
Of doubts
In the depths
Of uncertainty.

It takes time
To find out
Who I am.
It takes courage
To accept
Myself.
It takes maturity
To know
That others
Don't
Define me.

I owe it
To myself
To celebrate
What is inside.
The path
To happiness
Is
Through
My true
Self.

Bosanski manifest – Bosnian Manifesto (Work in Progress)

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Bosanski manifest

Bosna i Hercegovina je nedjeljiva. Ona u svoj svojoj cjelosti pripada svakom državljaninu i narodu u istoj mjeri. Niko na nju nema pravo više nego neko drugi. 

Snaga Bosne i Hercegovine leži u raznovrsnosti njenih stanovnika, uključujući njihova vjerska, nacionalna, jezička i politička opredjeljenja. Raznolikost doprinosi kreativnosti i bogatstvu ideja, kulture i društvenih, ekonomskih i političkih procesa. Država Bosna i Hercegovina mora obezbijediti svakom građaninu pravo i zaštitu da ispoljava i prakticira svoju raznolikost. 

Svaki državljanin i stanovnik Bosne i Hercegovine je dužan da je štiti, brani i unapređuje kroz svoja politička, društvena, ekonomska, obrazovna, vjerska, pravna, kulturna, umjetnička, naučna, sportska i druga djelovanja. Dužnost svih građana Bosne i Hercegovine je da je ostave u boljem stanju nego u kojem su je našli. Posebna pažnja mora biti posvećena mladima, koji su jedina garancija kontinuiranog uspjeha države.

Bosna i Hercegovina je dužna da obezbijedi svakom svom državljaninu zdravstvene, obrazovne, pravne i socijalne usluge na ravnopravnoj osnovi. Bilo koja aktivnost koja vodi ka umanjenju digniteta bilo kojeg državljanina Bosne i Hercegovine, uključujući korupciju, nepravdu, nepotizam ili neosnovane privilegije ne smije biti dozvoljena. Diskriminacija na bilo kojoj osnovi u bilo kojim sferama života ne smije biti dozvoljena. 

Bosna i Hercegovina je dužna da obezbijedi pozitivne ekonomske uslove za porast standarda, pravo na rad i ravnopravno učešće u ekonomskim procesima svim svojim državljanima, shodno njihovim kvalifikacijama. 

Vjerske organizacije ne smiju imati pravo uticaja na političke procese u državi. 

Susjedski/komšijski odnosi građana su najvažniji odnosi za očuvanje bića Bosne i Hercegovine. Svaka osoba mora braniti i štititi pravo svojih susjeda na njihovu vjeru i bogomolje, kao i pravo da vjeruju u šta god oni žele. Jedino će tako svačije pravo biti zaštićeno. 

Bosna i Hercegovina ne smije biti pod uticajem bilo kojeg centra moći u svijetu. Prijateljstvo sa njima je poželjno. Ovisnost nije. 

Nacionalizam nikada nije uspio izgraditi pravednu i ekonomski uspješnu demokratsku državu. Nacionalističke pojave su posebno pogubne za miješana društva, gdje donesu samo mržnju, ekstremno ponašanje, gubitak života i destrukciju imovine. 

 

Bosnian Manifesto

Bosnia and Herzegovina is indivisible. It belongs to all its citizens and nationalities in the same measure. No person or group claims more rights to it than any other person or group in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The strength of Bosnia and Herzegovina lies in the diversity of its citizens, including their religious, national, language, and political beliefs, affiliations, and preferences. Diversity enables and promotes creativity and richness of ideas, cultures, and social, economic, and political processes. Bosnia and Herzegovina must protect the right of all citizens to demonstrate and practice their distinctiveness and identity.

Every citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina has a duty to defend, protect, and advance it through his or her political, social, economic, educational, religious, legal, cultural, artistic, scientific, sports, or other activities. It is the obligation of each citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina to leave it in a better state than they found it in. Special attention must be paid to the youth of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the only possible guarantor of the continuing success of the country.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has a duty to provide each citizen with adequate and appropriate healthcare, educational, legal, and social services. Activities that lead to less than dignified living for any of its citizens, including corruption, injustice, nepotism, and unjustifiable privileges must be prevented. Discrimination on any basis of any citizen must not be allowed.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has a duty to create conditions for economic growth, increasing living standard of its citizens, fair access to job markets, and equitable participation in economic processes, based on one’s qualifications.

The separation of  Religion and the State must be enforced at all levels of political life.

Neighborly relations are at the core of the character of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Every individual must defend and protect the rights of his or her neighbors to practice any religion of their choice, including the right to not have one. This obligation extends to defending and protecting all houses of worship as well. This, in turn, will secure and protect the  rights of all citizens.

Bosnia and Herzegovina should never fall under political or economic influence of foreign centers of power. Collaboration and cooperation with such states and centers are desirable. Losing any aspect of sovereignty to them is not.

Forces of nationalism have never succeeded in building a just and economically successful democratic state. Such forces are especially detrimental to diverse societies, where they inevitably lead to hatred, extreme behavior, loss of life, and destruction of property.