There is a lot of anecdotal evidence out there of the strange usurpation of religious words and phrases by folks who are by no means religious.  Perhaps it would be better to say that Judeo/Christian words and phrases are being usurped and applied by folks who are by no means Christian.  Mercy, values, justice, peace, are all handy words that have come to mean whatever some advocate for some cause says that they mean.

So imagine losing a cell phone and having your laptop computer stolen in a place that claims to be progressive and caring and full of justice and mercy.  As Rod Serling used to say on the “Twilight Zone “, “imagine if you will”…..  The Twilight Zone was a place where black was white, up was down and one really felt like Alice must have after going down the rabbit hole.  Serling also wrote a little vignette that seems so prophetic now as we move into strange and uncertain times.  He said, “We’re developing a new citizenry. One that will be very selective about cereals and automobiles, but won’t be able to think.”  I surmise that we passed into that particular “Twilight Zone” a long time ago and now we are reaping the  whirlwind.   So get ready for a satirical look at a theft in what was once, some said, the most beautiful city in the world.  This is based on actual events that happened to people I know but who will remain anonymous.  Their conversations are from my imagination, but the contents of those conversations are absolutely real.  Some of the things that will come up in our little serialization can actually be found examined and mentioned in the many small local newspapers that pop up in the different districts of San Francisco.  We are going to take a journey to look at the quality of mercy.  So as Serling used to say. “This highway leads to the shadowy tip of reality: you’re on a through route to the land of the different, the bizarre, the unexplainable…Go as far as you like on this road. Its limits are only those of mind itself.”

The Quality of Mercy – Part the First – Being An Examination of Common Decency and the Fact that it is most Uncommon Indeed”

Imagine if you will a cohort of young men, raised in the Midwest on beef and pork, some from Wisconsin used to Friday night fish fries and German polka bands, some from Minnesota where “nice’ is used as a noun, traversing the country to visit what once was the most beautiful city in the country, some say the world; San Francisco. Imagine the same rubes leaving not their hearts in San Francisco, but their cell phones and computers.

We can see them in our minds eye, hail fellows well met, cheering each other on as they go through the crowds at the San Francisco airport, finding transportation, and wending their way to a local establishment where they can spend the night and get ready for a very important meeting.  Jocularity is the order of the day as the impressive sights of a great city unveil themselves before them.  The fog lifts on the glittering San Francisco bridge, the gem of the bay appears before them.  Nob
Hill can be seen off in the distance and the old water tower stands guard as if on sentinel duty. Off across the sparkling bay is Alcatraz, covered now with romance even though years before it was the symbol of rough justice to those who would
impugn our laws, break our social contracts, and denigrate law and order and in our great country.

The gob smacked Fellowship can only wonder at the beauty around them and earnestly ponder the stewardship of the time that has been allotted them in this blissful city.  This is after all “a business trip” with all the difficult responsibilities
that entails.  The sense of loyalty to their work, the honorable intentions of their employers; and of course their vast responsibilities to their customers are always at the top of their minds. What is at the bottom of their hearts however is the
matter to which we cannot plumb the depths, but we can ask ascertain facts and make some observations.  They decide on this business trip to go to a ball game, check out the local cuisine, and do some seeing of the sights.

If there were any feelings of being strangers in a strange land of that they make no mention.  If there were any presentiments of danger none are recorded except that they took their computers with them in the car because they were afraid to leave them in their rooms. Of fell deeds or forebodings of calamity there is no evidence in their declarations, but within hours their anger and resentment would cause them to be excused if they took  Theoden’s speech as their own.  “Fell deeds awake, fire and slaughter! ……a sword-day, a red day…..”  Such is what anger and the frustration of unfairness can do to the pure of heart as were our corn and fish fry fed friends.  Good conscientious folks, some even exhibiting “Minnesota Nice” can have their anger fanned into incomprehensible flames.  But that is for later in our story.

Their meeting was in the evening of the morrow and so a good time was had by all.  A ball game, a hot dog. a local libation, the trolley cars and gayly meandering down Lombard Street were all a great escapade.  The bonhomme, the camaraderie, made everything as the patriarch Cleaver’s boys were wont to say; swell.

A tour was made of the districts in the environs of San Francisco, they being diverse and interesting in their own way.  There is Butcher Town and Castor, Upper and Lower Haight, Asbury, the Embarcadero and Little Saigon, Chinatown, Presidio Heights and the Tenderloin.  The Tenderloin is notorious for crime and being one messed up neighborhood.  Folks would like the Tenderloin to be visited more to build up foot traffic and maybe trick some folks that have money into moving there.  One of the cities own publications copied a blogger who wrote, “There are great places to eat and drink here, and some of the most elegant masonry architecture west of Chicago can be appreciated in daylight hours. The more that smart, engaged people experience the Tenderloin, the less likely people will question its safety.”  So our intrepid lads, loving masonry architecture, and believing that they were smart and engaged “experienced the Tenderloin.”

After taking note of stone architecture and visiting with some “stoned” architects our gallants found a famous eatery that had been recommended as one of the best in San Francisco and had the advantage of having to step over only two inert figures in front of the door.  The food was good and the atmosphere eclectic.  History, as they say, oozed out of the woodwork, and one denizen of the place told them to be happy that nothing else was oozing out at the time.

The élan of our hearty group turned to stunned horror. When approaching their car they saw the back windows broken out and the trunk unsprung, which made the vehicle from the rear looking for all the world like a buck toothed moron grinning at them and whispering “hail fellows, well met”.

Being the end of Part the First.

Tomorrow – The Quality of Mercy and the Engagement with “Authorities”.