Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco is a tourist destination ranked with the best of them. By day you can listen to live music, wander the docks where small fishing boats bring in the catch of the day, get pictures of Alcatraz and a bowl of clam chowder in a genuine Sourdough bread bowl. Yes, I capitalized Sourdough. We do that here.
By night the Wharf is very much the same, but now you can seek a table in one of the swanky restaurants that line the pier, menus overflowing with fresh seafood, most of it alive and swimming just half a day before.
When driving to the Wharf, many folk choose to park on the street or in lots nearby, some of them offering validation for the first few hours.
The others can use valet parking, an expensive choice but handy if parking in a crowded area isn’t your forte.
This particular evening I’m the medic on a 1&1 ambulance, as it was called here, you may know it as “the normal” or “the right way” where you are, at this time it was an oddity.
The bells ring and we’re waiting for our rig to be called. I mean waiting because instead of hearing just us, or us and the engine we hear the fire boat, rescue boat, jet skis, 2 engines, a Chief, an RC and finally, as if an afterthought, our little medic van.
The narrative tells us a person has jumped from one of the piers into the cold summer evening water. Keep in mind our seasons are a little different here too.
On scene we are waved around back of the fancy restaurants and to the lot where the valet drivers park the cars. The first thing I notice is that all of them are backed up to the edge of the pier and, although there is a large log keeping the car from falling in, a person could very easily step over accidentally and as we look over the edge, there he is.
Clutching a large floating buoy protecting a fishing boat from the pier is our patient, cold, wet and shivering, at least 12 feet below us. This is going to be a job for…
…from behind a sea of red and white helmets, denoting the truck company, appears carrying a 16 foot roofing ladder with large rounded hooks on the end. While usually reserved for peaked roofs, it works perfectly for reaching down piers.
When naked and warming under blankets in the back of the ambulance, our new friend tells us how he came to be a fish.
He was attending a birthday party and suddenly realized he had forgotten the gift in the car. Heading down he got the keys from the valet and found his car. When he went around back to get into the truck he fell 12 feet into the water and was underneath the large buoy for a time, just long enough to think he was going to drown. It was a quick thinking valet attendant who saw him cross the parking area, saw him fall and called for help.
Had the lot been empty he could have possibly drowned.
I bet next time you go to get something out of your trunk you look twice to see if there is a floor to stand on.