“I invented Free Hugs, bitch!” — Juan Mann.
Today started off slow. I walked around Fisherman’s Wharf which is just another tourist trap. Like Skagway. Then I went up Telegraph Hill which was supposed to have an amazing view of the city. But the view was pretty much of Bay Bridge, which is like the ugly cousin of the Golden Gate Bridge but with a very nice personality. You know when foreigners come to New Zealand and we try to gt them to taste Marmite, telling them it tastes like Nutella? That’s Telegraph Hill.
I also tried a little social experiment. I smiled at every person who walked by me to see how many smiled back. 4 people did. 4! San Francisco is a funky city but people do seem to have their blinders on.
Anyway, after that I gathered up Emmanuel, Michelle and Julia and headed to Union Square for Free Hugs. Bean joined us as well soon after, a veteran free hugger. It was awesome, everyone got into it and we had a steady stream of people coming over for hugs. (I reckon the trick is to choose a location with lots of foot traffic and near a park or music). It was awesome! And probably the highlight of my San Francisco visit.
Someone asked me why I do Free Hugs or rather “what’s my ploy?”. Lots of reasons actually. One, I love cities but they can be cold places to live in. I think strangers can afford to be friendlier to each other and partake in random acts of kindness without any ulterior motives or agenda, apart from wanting to be an active participant in the karma economy. Two, some people really do need more hugs and may not be getting enough. This I think is the difference between Free Hugs and flash mobs. I feel flash mobs are kind of like performance art. But I think free hugs is more about just being nice to strangers.
Anyway, after that a bunch of us went for dinner and then to the weekly Couchsurfer social. Lots of fun and I met lots of cool and interesting characters there. Good times.
Then it was back to Emmanuel’s where we gorges on watermelon, chatted and said our goodbyes. We leave for Burning Man tomorrow!