More Tales from the Nob Hill: Hob-nobbing with Doctor Ray

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Last week I spent some time at the Nob Hill Inn, a great dive at 420 East Colfax Avenue, chatting with the regulars -- some of whom have irregular hobbies.

Doctor Ray takes care of the homeless in the neighborhood. Outreach, he told me. Getting them into shelters for the night when the temperature starts to dip, the way it was doing that night. He works the streets, and then when he needs to warm up a little, he comes into the Nob Hill for a couple of pops. Everyone knows him here. Everyone knows everyone.

"You should come out with me some night," he said, and I nodded. I asked him if he had a card and he didn't, but he had a phone number. I scratched it down on the back of the reporter's notebook in my pocket and then we shook hands. He told me his name again. I told him mine.

He asked if I was that Jason, as if, suddenly, being me was a good thing or a bad thing, not just a thing, period.

I told him yeah, I was.

"I read your book," he said. "I didn't buy it. Got it from the library. It was wild."

I conceded that yes -- wild is one of the things it was. Doctor Ray shrugged into his heavy coat.

"Anyway, you should come out with me some night and help. It's good work."

I told him I would and watched him go out the door. Then I turned back to my beer. I still have the number, but I haven't called it. Yet.

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