Quite by accident, we picked a three day weekend to be in San Francisco. I mean, I can appreciate having a day to honor presidents. How dreadful would it be to wake up and find you are the President of the United States?
But, there were a lot of tourists in the city. We waited in line to get into the parking garage. We waited over an hour to eat at Bubba Gump’s shrimp on Pier 39. I waited in line for hot chocolate at Ghirardelli. And we waited in line for an hour to ride the cable cars.
But when we finally boarded that old-fashioned car and began rushing up the steep street leading away from San Francisco Bay, all I could think was, Wow!
Marnell and I clung to the poles on the outside of the car. Other people sat on the benches or stood inside. The grip man stood behind us in the car, working levers. I’ve heard that the gripmen have to pass strict tests of strength and reflex to qualify for the position.
We ascended the hill and went past curvy Lombard Street. We went down and back up and took a left hand turn.
“Will we stop at the cable car museum?” we asked the gripman, and he said we would.
At the next stop, we knew we were getting close.
“Is this where we get off for the museum?” we asked him.
The man with the powerful hands rolled his eyes.
“I’ll tell you when to get off,” he said.
He kept his promise.
We walked through the museum door. No line. We walked up the steps and looked over the railing.
A whirring noise filled our ears. Giant pulleys (twelve feet high I think) spun beneath us, the cable flying across them. Each line was labeled with the name of a street: Powell, Mason, California.
Only a few visitors moved around the building. We were almost alone.
We went down the stairs and peered through the glass at the shreaves, deeply-grooved pulleys set at angles to guide the cable in from the street.
Oh, I loved visiting there. The benefits of getting closer to the power source are hard to describe. Seeing the machinery helped me make sense of the hidden world under the street. It showed me where the unbreakable cable, humming beneath the street, comes from. Reading the information helped me understand how the cars grip the cable.
Jumping on a cable car is a little like going to church, I think. Lots of people do it. They savor the fellowship. They enjoy not needing to climb the hills themselves.
Not so many stop to get closer to the power source, hidden from our eyes. Not so many take the time to stand still. Not so many watch and listen and read Scripture.
But what a privilege to get closer! And, it is a place where no one waits in line. It is a place where you can relax, even if your life feels as bad as if you were the President.