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My Welcome Back to San Francisco From a Homeless Man

I hadn’t been to San Francisco in over a year and was excited to see the city again. I’d spent the past two months unsuccessfully hunting for jobs in the SF tech world and had begun to feel like my having an Economics/Accounting degree was about the same as saying that I’d chewed rocks for four years. Fortunately, a company was interested in just such a rock chewer, so I came to San Francisco for an on-site interview.

As I rode the escalator up out of BART (SF’s metro system), I thought about how I’ve always enjoyed the transition from underground to the city. Well, visually I enjoy it. Olfactory-wise there’s a formidable smell that’s like a combination of weed, piss, and compressed stale farts, but I’ve never been able to smell particularly well so I just ignore it.

But the view! I have to let my head fall back, mouth agape, to properly take in the skyscrapers thrusting up to the clouds. And there’s so much energy! Such a vibrant hum of people, all of them beautiful somehow, and each walking with the air of someone who has a significant unique purpose. It always lifts my spirits a bit when I first step out of the metro, and this day was no different except for the tinge of nerves that colored my feelings.

As I walked down the sidewalk rehearsing my responses to potential interview questions, I heard a voice shout out, “Hey! Hey!” It sounded like it may have been directed at me, but there’s a lot of yelling that goes on in the city so I ignored it. Then from behind my right shoulder came a homeless man who yelled in my face, “You, sir, are no gentleman! The old man told me last night that he saw you having sex with children!”

…Right. Ok. So, let’s break down what was just yelled at me by a random homeless man. “You, sir, are no gentleman!” I don’t think that phrase has been uttered since the 1800’s. I very nearly pulled out my white glove, slapped him across the face, and challenged him to a duel on the spot!

And then the second part – who is this old man? Some old guy saw a person having sex with children and instead of trying to stop the person or call the police, he went straight to you to hunt down the perpetrator? And what did he tell you: “Be on the look out for a tall guy who looks like a combination of James Franco (shut up, people have said I look like him), Michael Phelps, and Wallace from Wallace and Grommit?”

Which one am I? If you guessed bottom left, well done.

It was so bizarre that all I could think to do was mutter, “I think you’ve got the wrong guy,” and crossed the street. Fortunately, he did not pursue me, and I walked off to my interview wondering if I had a particularly pedophiley face. I did end up getting the job, so maybe being verbally accosted by a homeless man is some sort of pre-interview magic.

Afterwards, I headed back to BART and sat down to wait. As I waited, a kid that looked about 14 years old stumbled off a train holding a styrofoam cup. I wondered if it held soda, alcohol, or if this was some adolescent Lil Wayne “It’s my cup” moment. I very quickly learned that it wasn’t soda when he stopped, vomited, continued walking, then projectile vomited while walking, and then exited the station.

The most surprising part of this moment was the absolute lack of a reaction from everyone around me. They continued chatting or reading their Kindles as if to say, “Yeah, this is public transportation in San Francisco. That’s supposed to happen.” Apparently I still have much to learn about the city. 

With that, I hopped on my train and headed home thus ending my vomit infused, pedophile accused welcome back to San Francisco. 

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