Tuesday morning I woke up before my alarm and decided to head over to eat before my 5 AM shift (that's the LATE shift by the way, early shift starts at 3:45). Once again breakfast was a hectic affair which seems like it's going to be from here on out. Riders will eat dinner at various times, but they all want to get out on the road at around the same time. For whatever reason I was extra chipper this morning and think I shocked some of the more groggy and tired riders as they came up to the line. What can I do . . . I am one of those horrible freaks of nature "a morning person."
After breakfast food service got split up and some of us wound up on the SAG bus (SAG's are riders who for various reasons aren't riding that day.) Talk about a different bus . . . there were bandages and slings and many many long faces. (I opted not to take any photos . . .) We rode along in silence and drove directly to Paso Robles. Once in Paso Robles I stashed my backpack and wondered over to the info tent to get my bearings. While I was there I met one of the SAG'ed riders Raghu from the South Bay. I was planning on walking in to town to hit the Starbuck's and see what else there was to see in Paso Robles; Raghu was game to come along. We exchanged the "What do you do's and the where do you lives?" quickly. Like me he was a tech worker, but he lived down in Silicon Valley. Raghu was on the ride with a group of his fellow tech worker South Asian friends. While he was sad to be SAG'ed, he was actually quite pleased to see the behind the scenes roadie work as well as meet lots of new people.
Our conversation turned to relationships. Raghu said while he liked the idea of a "love marriage" (his term), if he didn't allow his parents to arrange his marriage they would be very sad and upset. I joked with him that he should send home a picture of a blond American girl and tell his parents he was engaged. He laughed nervously and said that would kill his mother. His parents had just arranged for his brother to marry in October so he knew after that he was up next. The American in me kept wanting to urge him to rebel against it, and meet the right girl here in the States. He was so calm and serene about it though, I couldn't bring myself to say anything. When I thought further about it as we got lost and then eventually found the Starbuck's I realized I don't know what the divorce rate in India is, but I doubt it's worse than ours. Who was I to say what's best for him or his potential wife to be. Before we parted ways I promised Raghu that I would fill his plate with eggs the next morning since his biggest downfall the day before seems to have been skipping breakfast.
By the evening during dinner service I had come to realize that the event I thought I was attending wasn't what it actually is. Honestly I thought it was going to be crazy gay camping with athletic queens biking around everywhere causing mayhem. And yes it's definitely some of that, but there are so many more people of so many different backgrounds here it's hard to pinpoint the scene or crowd. My amazing time spent with Raghu was just one clue; my fellow food service roadies were another big clue. Then when I took my dinner break and joined the riders in the dining hall I met an really nice straight couple from the Marina. Then they left and were replaced by two straight women from Concord. Now dear readers you may not know this, but in the past I've had the bad habit of looking down on Marina-ites and Contra Costa County residents as hopelessly over-privileged and scaredy-cat suburbanites respectively. Both of my interactions with these wonderful people went completely against my stereotypes, and in a way it left me a bit reeling. (Perhaps not the biggest epiphany in the world: "stereotypes are often wrong" but when it comes at you bam bam bam in a row like on Day 3, you really take notice!) The moral of this story is straight people are cool! I'm glad they are in the world. NOT what I was expecting to learn on this ride.
Dinner's theme was Gilligan's Island/Tropical (pics coming soon!)