The kid, maybe 19, 20, claimed he had skateboarded from San Francisco to the Monterey Peninsula, some 125 miles. I believed him. He had a wispy beard, clothes on the grungy side, looked beat and his jeans appeared to have taken a tumble or two.
I didn't ask what route south he took. Maybe some of the old stretches of Highway 101 that are now rural bits of pavement or city streets. He might have come down coastal Highway 1, but that seemed even more dangerous.
``Yeah, I did it,'' he said, ``got in a few hours ago. Do you know if the library here is open today?''
I knew he didn't want to check out a book, but I had to think if a nearby library was, indeed, open. Libraries are seeing their hours reduced radically. Libraries are where many of the homeless and travelers like the young skateboarder clean up.
For some, they are almost a lifeline.
In our town there's a handsome older man, call him Hans, who had been a professor at a distinguished institution, but lost everything, including his home, when his wife became ill and died. At least that's the story.
Both the library and the post office are important to Hans.
If you walk into the post office early, before the windows have opened for business, you can sometimes see Hans leaning over a table, one hand under his chin, a book or writing tablet in front of him, and a small battery-operated radio playing classical music. Hans is sleeping. He can sleep standing.
But sometimes he is writing, often vigorously, and I wonder what he is writing.
Later in the day, if the library happens to be open, he drops by, finds a warm corner, and reads.
The librarians like him and are protective of him, especially if other users complain about Hans.
``Actually, he's much more polite than many of our patrons,'' said one librarian. If Hans doesn't show up at the library, the librarians worry.
The skateboarding kid said he was heading down Highway 1 to Big Sur, then maybe Los Angeles. Highway 1 is beautiful, but he won't find many libraries along its curvy route. And the thought of skateboarding it is terrifying.
Causes Steve Hauk Supports
City of Pacific Grove Public Library, Pacific Grove, California; Animal Friends Rescue Project, Pacific Grove; Animal Welfare Information and Assistance,...