The meeting with the Chief was a great success and we were all on a high following the best possible start to the U.S part of the trip.
The plan for the rest of the day was to go for some lunch at a local bar that Justin wanted to show me, then it would be time for me to have my ‘walking tour of the city’ , then pop down to Engine 13 where I would be doing my 2 shifts on the fire engine later in the week.
As I said in the last post, Justin LOVES his history. If there is something about the city that he doesn’t know (as far as historically facts), I guess it isn’t worth knowing! I could tell he was dying to share some of his hard remembered facts with me, and to be honest, I love having little factoids to share with people too. We headed off into one of the districts of the city to get some lunch when we were rudely interrupted by an email coming through on Justin’s phone. To cut it short, it was from a member of staff from the Mayor’s office and just said…
“Ok, that’s fine, whenever you want”
WHAT!! Justin looked at Ted, Ted looked at Chris, Chris looked at me…..
“Really?? Are we going then?”
“Right guys back to the car, we are going to see ‘THE GAV”!” Justin said, smiling from ear to ear.
We were buzzing with excitement. For all my British readers, the Mayor of a major US City is a hella (like it?) more important than a UK Mayor. This would be a scoop and a half and would more than likely give the Chronicles of EMS a huge boost. Justin joked on and said
“Hey if we can get the Mayor, let’s keep going and go and meet President Obama!”
We piled into the car and headed off towards the centre of town. We decided it was best that Justin should ring ahead and speak to the person who had sent the email, so that she could let the Mayor know that we were coming and should be there soon.
As he dialed the number, we were all straining to listen to the conversation. I looked at Justin’s face as he introduced himself and told the lady that we were on our way and should be there within 15 minutes…………Then I watched the smile drop from his face, and the twinkle go from his eye….
“Oh Okay, right…..I`ll do that now then……Thanks very much……..Goodbye….”
“Well, what’s happening?” asked Ted…
“Errr, she meant ‘OK, that’s fine, we can send details in an email requesting a meeting’
Well, if ever you wanted to know what it feels like to be a balloon deflating rather quickly, you would have seen it in all of our faces as we stood there in the middle of the street. The enthusiasm drained for a couple of minutes before we realised that we were onto something special anyway and it was still Awesome! PLUS, it wasn’t a NO and we still had time to try and get this thing sorted out.
We headed off for our lunch in a wonderful small pub which I can’t remember the name of (EDIT – The Old Ship), but it used to be right on docks before the great fire & earthquake but is now nearly 2 miles 200 metres inland due to the all the rubble and debris from the earthquake being pushed into the bay (see Justin, some facts I will remember for life now – Thanks for that !). I had a burger and some of the apparently always required Garlic Fries as I sat and watched Ted start his hunt for a plug to charge his iPhone from. He eventually found one half ways up a wall and managed to balance his phone on a small outcrop of metal. Result, one happy Ted!!
As we were sitting eating, Justin kept popping out to make phone calls to the Mayor’s office and then spent the rest of his time penning his email reply to try and get us in. It was looking less likely, but still possible.
After we finished eating and Teds phone dropped from a height onto the floor (DOH!!!) we headed off again. This time we went down to Engine 13 so Justin could check that everything was in order before he arrived there in a couple of days with a strange guy, in a green jumpsuit with a strange accent.
As he went in to talk with the Captain, Ted, Chris and I stayed outside and chatted.
I took a couple of cool touristy photographs of the beautiful fire engine that I would be riding in and also the magnificent Bank of America building Trans America Pyramid which the station was located at the base off.
The great thing now is that whenever I see a skyline picture of the City Scape of San Francisco, as soon as I see the pyramid, I can say, “Yeah, that’s where I worked!”
Justin came out and introduced us to a couple of the guys on shift, and we had a great chat about what we were doing, what it was like where I worked and what we hoped to do with the Chronicles of EMS. There is still a general negativity to the ‘TRAUMA’ TV show from the medics in the department and what we hoped to do was show the public what it was really like to be a Medic in San Francisco.
Many times Justin explained what we were doing by saying:
“We want to show the regular patients, the abuse of the system, the things that don’t work and what it’s really like to do what we do. All of the time on post, and the less glamorous side of the job”
Unanimously, this always got a great response from the Men and Women of the SFFD.
At one point, Ted seemed to be getting into a particularly heated discussion with one of the guys from the Station, but once he heard exactly what we were trying to do and how we were trying to change things for the better of everyone, he was sold and by the time we left, he was wishing us all the best and telling us that he couldn’t wait to see what the finished programme was like.
Then came the opportunity for Justin and me to show the true skill, professionalism and street wise ways that we have developed over the years…
Along the street came a gentleman who appeared a little ‘worse for wear’. He stood back and watched whilst Ted and Chris did a bit of filming, then he made his move!
He stood alongside Ted and one of the guys from the station and started asking questions about this and that, telling them what he thinks of the SFFD (which was actually quite nice and positive) and generally becoming quite vocal.
As we saw him move in, Justin and I said our hellos to him and had a quick chat, but once we recognised that it was a situation that there may be no quick way out from (i.e. one of those guys who just like to talk and it becomes difficult to find a break to be able to say ‘goodbye’, we quickly maneuvered to a point where Ted and the chap from the station were in line to provide conversation to our new found friend! Success!!!
After about 20-30 minutes he was still going strong. I knew that he and Ted were becoming close when he offered to swap his T-Shirt with Ted!! Ted then took the opportunity to ask him if he wanted to say anything for all of our viewers:
[pro-player width=’530′ height=’253′ type=’video’ image=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SdL6wY2mw8′%5Dhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SdL6wY2mw8%5B/pro-player%5D
A ‘one of a kind guy’, but also one of the true reasons for the trip – To see the ‘real San Francisco’ not just the lovely tourist brochure!
We finally managed an exit strategy, and by this time, I had managed to say hello to most of the chaps on duty that day. They all seemed really friendly and welcoming and it put some nerves to rest about going to work there later in the week. I know it wouldn’t be the same guys, but if these were so welcoming, surely all of the crews must be?
We left Engine 13 and headed back to the hotel to get changed. By now it was getting to late afternoon and I was keen to let Justin get away and back home to his family. Kim, Justin’s wife, had different ideas though. She phoned late on in the afternoon and I got the chance to say a quick hello to her. She spoke with Justin and then he asked me if I would like to have dinner with Kim and his kids?
The plan was that they would drive into the city and meet up with us, and then we would go to the cheesecake factory, which is a restaurant on the top floor of Macys overlooking Union Square. Sounded like a plan to me!!!
However, it was getting late and I was concerned that it may be too much for Kim and the kids coming out fairly late, but Kim wanted to meet me, and to be honest I was really looking forward to finally meeting her and the kids. It was only the second day, but I was already missing my family, and this would be nice!
Shortly after 6.30 Kim arrived in Union Square and met up with us. The children came out and Morgan, the eldest, seemed especially excited to meet me….until she actually got close. She quickly clung on to daddy and wouldn’t come anywhere near me (which is understandable and quite good considering I was a stranger at that point). I gave them a small present I had brought over, two teddy bears with the Union Jacks on, which seemed to go down well. Kim came over and said hello and we gave each other a hug. It was nice to be part of a family unit again, even if it was ‘borrowed’ for a while.
We went up for dinner and ordered our food. My highlight of the meal was the moment when Kim was struggling with Morgan and Eliza (both were obviously very tired and starting to get a little ratty) whilst trying to have her food, whilst Justin was on his iPhone. The look she gave him made me feel so at home, as it was the one that Sandra throws me when she finds herself in similar circumstances!!
It was at that moment that I knew that if Sandra and Kim do get to meet in the future, they will get on just fine!!
Once the meal was over, we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Justin took me back to my hotel where yet again, the Wi-Fi was not working and I ended up blogging, uploading photos and videos in the back office of the reception. Not good, and my complaints were starting to mount. I would try and move hotels the following day, as this just wasn’t good enough. I had now been up for approximately 40 hours with just 3 hours sleep in the middle of it.
I was at work on the Ambulance in the morning and I was absolutely knackered. Time to go to bed.
It was another big day tomorrow!!