In 2006, I told a friend that I had officially become a runner, and that my regular route would be from the financial district after work, along the Embarcadero, over to Fort Mason, and then back to the financial district to catch my bus home.
A more veteran runner with Embarcadero experience, my friend said, "Watch out for the guy who hides behind tree branches and jumps out at tourists!"
The next day, forgetting all about my friend's warning, I took my first run on the Embarcadero, ignorant of any crouching human trees. I was shocked when an apparent sidewalk shrub started growling, and a human figure emerged from behind what was only a pair of leafy tree branches, arranged in such a way to hide the man while he'd been crouching.
The jumping tree man got me. I jumped up and screamed.
Last week, I read the jumping tree man's name. Gregory Jacobs was in the news, which reported that he had performed this feat for 30 years. From his plot of sidewalk on Fisherman's Wharf -- the most touristy spot in San Francisco -- he had spent decades shocking the guts out of people for donations.