The first place I went to in Berkeley after moving there many years ago was the Triple Rock brewpub. It may have been straight from the train to the pub. My friend Suzie picked me up at the train station in Oakland and I can't recall if we dropped my bags off at the apartment first or not.
I like Triple Rock and their beer, yet I don't think I went there that often, despite the fact that it was on the same street as the bookstore where I worked. I didn't go to bars much when I lived in California, possibly because I didn't have the money. Now I would be regular. Their beer is good, the IPA in particular quite tasty, and last night I had an incredible salmon sandwich: marinated in ginger, chili, tangy soy sauce and then grilled. It was one of those times I kept closing my eyes as I ate, to be concentrate on how much I enjoyed the flavors mingling across my tongue.
Triple Rock is also where I received a fast lesson in the gap between how things should be versus how they are. Suzie and I got our table and a couple of beers. We ordered sandwiches at the bar. Mine arrived first so I took it back to the table. While Suzie was still waiting at the bar, a guy, obviously down on his luck, whether he was genuinely homeless or not remains a mystery, came over to the table. He said he was hungry and asked if he could have some of my sandwich.
Well, I believe in feeding the poor and I'm more socialist than most, so I began trying to pull the sandwich in two. I wanted to help the man but not go so far as to let him take a bite out of something I would eat. I just didn't know how to say "no" to this guy. It's not that I was afraid. I truly believed that if somone is hungry and asks for some food, you give it to them. But whatever it was I ordered proved resistant to pulling apart neatly or evenly. Like the classic 98 pound weaklng, I had trouble pulling the sandwich apart. The man stood there, patiently, until someone who worked at the bar came over, told the man to get out and apologized to me. The man smiled - he had a "I was so close, I almost got ya" look on his face.
As the man walked away, Suzie came to the table.
"Welcome to Berkeley" she said.