Playing by the rules

SATURDAY — Sold fish. Went shopping with Judith & Jake, and bought prune juice, because I was moderately constipated. It was a basic blah day, sorry — no good news, no bad.

Tomorrow will be the same, except there'll be no need to go shopping, and no constipation if the prune juice works its magic overnight.

♦ ♦ ♦

SUNDAY — Sarah-Katherine will be visiting for a few days in a few weeks, and I'm getting antsy. Not about seeing her; she's a friend, she knows better than to expect I'll show her a good time, so we'll have a good time.

But I'm concerned that we might not have a place to sleep, probably separately. For a week and a half I've been holed up in the guest room at the house where I'm supposed to be moving in, waiting impatiently and sometimes helping clear out the room that's supposed to be my room. Most of my stuff, meanwhile, remains at Pike's apartment in San Francisco, where he doesn't know I'm about to vacate the premises. I'm tentatively planning to pack that place up on Monday, and be gone on Tuesday the 4th of July.

Judith says my new room will be habitable by Thursday the 6th, which would leave me a week to get unpacked and semi-settled here in Berkeley, before Sarah-Katherine arrives. Fingers crossed, but living in the guest room is no fun, and I do not feel at home here.

I need a room of my own, with my books on the shelf, my old zines in the corner, and my mess — not someone else's — all over the place.

♦ ♦ ♦

Vendor politics is probably boring to read about, sorry, but it's boring to live through it, too. It was a big frustration today (again), so I'm going to write about it (again).

I sell fish stickers and magnets on Telegraph Ave in Berkeley. The vendors are heavily regulated by the city, and there are 27 rules to follow, and I try to follow them. There's a lottery where vendors draw numbers to decide where they'll be selling that day. It takes about half an hour, and there aren't many customers before noon, so I don't do the lottery any more. Instead I do it the alternate (but still city-approved) way, using the "late sign-in" procedures. You show up, sign in, and pick the best unclaimed vending spot.

So this morning that's what I did, but to my great annoyance, when I rolled my cart to my chosen and properly signed-in space, another vendor was already there. Or rather, another vendor's table was there, stocked with hand-carved pipes and bongs, but there was no vendor to yell at. I recognized the merchandise and the displays, knew whose table it was, and it was a vendor I dislike, and the feeling is mutual.

I waited five minutes, but she was nowhere, so fuck it, I decided that by the time she'd returned from the ladies' room or wherever she was, and I'd asked her politely to move out of my signed-in slot, then asked her rudely after she said no, then dragged her table into the street and thrown a few punches… it would be simpler and less sweaty to go back to the sign-in sheet and pick a different location.

My new slot was two blocks away, and someone was in it, too — two someones, actually. The vendors on both sides of me were in their assigned spots, but they both had oversized tables, so my spot was filled with the north side of one guy's table and the south side of another's.

This time I argued, all three of us argued, and it got loud. They weren't going to relocate unless the city clipboard schmuck told them to, and he was nowhere to be seen. I suppose I could've tipped their tables over, and I was tempted, but it was a hot day and I just wanted to sell some damned fish, so after a few minutes of yelling and swearing and being yelled at and swore at, I took an empty space across the street. Without signing in.

By the time I'd set up my table, about half an hour had been wasted, and I was in a bad mood all afternoon.

Abolish all the rules, I say. Especially if nobody's following the rules anyway. Certainly, abolish the licenses for vending on Telegraph, and the daily lottery for spaces, and the sign-in sheets that nobody really looks at except maybe the clipboard schmuck. Instead of this over-complicated system that nobody really follows, how's about this: you show up, pick a spot, set up your table, and that's your spot for the day.

The turf wars and politics piss me off. Jay and I have played by all the stupid rules and paid all the stupid fees, and for our trouble I got dicked around today.

And I don't even know what I should've done. It didn't seem worth the bother of losing my temper when my first spot was taken. I lost my temper at the second spot, but even then I backed down. Should I have dragged the other vendor's table out of my space? Am I supposed to go to war over four feet of retail space on the street?

From Pathetic Life #14
Saturday & Sunday, July 1-2, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

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