Friday, February 27, 2009

The Blue Bible and Free Coffee / San Francisco, USA

A backpacking trip without a guide book would be difficult for me. The blue Lonely Planet books gave me numerous very valuable hints about how a country works. They told me where and when buses leave, recommended some good hostels and gave advice how to avoid the main scams. Unfortunately almost every traveler relies on the Lonely Planet guide books and most of us end up in the same hostels. Sometimes it seemed that hotels or sights don't exist if they are not mentioned in the Lonely Planet.
That brought me to the thought whether a country would disappear completely when all tourists would throw away their Lonely Planets in the same second.
Anyway, this is not what I want to tell you in this posting.

Usually I refer to the blue Lonely Planet book as the 'Blue Bible' because it acts as a guidance for life and even the writing is as small as in a bible. In San Francisco I had a blue bible experience of a sad kind.

I sat in a Starbucks in San Francisco by the window and read in the Lonely Planet for Hawaii, my next stop.
All of a sudden an old homeless guy in rotten cloths entered the shop and sat down on my table. He started asking for some money but I hardly understood anything because he was talking in a very strong accent and he was lacking most of his teeth.
After some seconds two Starbucks employees appeared and asked the guy to leave in a very hard tone.
The homeless man said 'I just wanted to talk to this man. I thought he is a good man because he reads in the bible'.
The waiters almost grabbed the man in his armpits and forced him to leave the shop.
I didn't know what to say.
After two minutes one of the Starbucks guys brought me a free cup of coffee and said 'Sir sorry for this situation. Here is a free Latte for you'.

Damn, there was a homeless guy and a rich tourist and in the end the rich tourist gets free coffee while the poor guy is thrown out.

I looked at my blue bible, felt awful and stopped reading in my blue bible about places the vagabond probably never will see.

Life is very unfair in many ways and I have no idea how to deal with it.

This story is not invented. You can still the my two cups of coffee on the table.


  1. yes, sad. indeed.

  2. Yes. The world is not a fair place. I thought the same thing as I sat at a table eating lunch in Grand Central Station today where a homeless guy sat next to me carefully sipping an orange soda drink. After he finished his drink he struggled to put on a coat as some awful tourists laughed uncomfortably at his inability to get the sleeve up over his shoulder. I wonder if we can make the world better? Brighter? Less lonely and mean? I hope so.

  3. Holly Blue Bible !!!it's so funny, thanks to it we met and we were taking separately every single step the guide said, we were in the same buses, same excursions, until our faces turned out familiar and finally talked to each other, 5 yrs since then, cool :)Cel

  4. how about tell the waiter that you did not mind the man talking to you? How about giving him your free coffee? Actions speak louder than words and this world will not get better by hoping.

  5. I'm glad that it made you sad to see that. So many people don't care at all, they would just be happy for free coffee. Thanks for caring about that man.

  6. Had something similar happen to me, watched a man at Burger King dipping napkins in a cup of coffee and eat them because he was hungry and couldn't afford food too. Went over to the man and offered to buy him lunch, which he refused because he didn't know me. At first I felt hurt, then realized he was right, opened a food pantry and ministry, and had the man stop in to see me. I now call him "Uncle Joe" and he stops by regularly every Friday at the pantry with about 3 or 4 friends and the pantry has grown to about 83 regulars. It's not about the numbers, it's about people, and that's the best BIBLE I could ever LIVE, not just read. Thanks for posting your story, and I hope I've inspired too, be back many times to check your travels...