Journey to the End of the Night, Checkpoint 1

by janedotx7

I jogged into the park, comforted by the sight of all the blue
armbands. 8:19. I’m 11 minutes early. A promising start, and I hadn’t
even seen any chasers on the way–just huge clumps of blue runners.

Standing across from the gleaming stainless steel statue of Saint
Sandwich Day, were a woman in a white lab coat and a hippie with
dreadlocks–could this get any more classically San
Francisco?–surrounded by blue runners. So that was the place to get

I waited in line, and when it was my turn, I patiently held out my
map. The hippie turned a stone face to me, and said, “So. What have
you done?”

Done? I’d already jogged more in ten minutes than I had in the whole
past year; wasn’t that enough for him? “What do I have to do?”

He nodded towards the woman in the lab coat. “For her. It’s her
birthday, you know.”

Black-framed, square glasses, curly hair, something that looked like
tie-dye underneath the coat, and a big friendly smile. Fashionably
unfashionable, probably had friends who went to Burning Man even if
she didn’t go herself. Handling this one would require great irony.

“Well,” I said. “I’m so sorry I didn’t bring you a present, but I just
wanted to let you know what a huge honor it is getting a stamp from
you. It’s a very generous and giving gesture of you to be giving out
stamps instead of getting presents on your birthday, but I could tell
by looking at you what a giver you are. It would be so nice to get a
stamp from a generous lady like you.”

She giggled. “You’re good at this!” I got my stamp. It was very nicely
aligned within the box it was supposed to go.

Success! Even if I got tagged before the next checkpoint, I was going
to squeeze fun from this game, every way I could.