San Francisco -- A Commuter's Tale

Exit apartment building on Geary, give cigarette to the nice bum who claims to be “trying to get my sax out of hock.”

Walk one block down Larkin to Post. Along the way, scurry to avoid the semi-attractive woman. She’d be fully attractive were she not weaving, smiling, and naked save for one combat boot, what might have once been sweatpants, and a loose, open denim jacket. The one breast I see is perfectly-shaped beneath the filth.


Wait two minutes or less for Geary bus downtown, handing out two more cigarettes to bums and turning down one proposition from a male hooker.

Get on bus, try not to touch anything or anyone — difficult to do while standing and bus is coming to a stop. “Grime” is the word stuck in my head.

Get off bus at Market Street, in the heart of the Financial District. Skyscrapers tower overhead, but at ground level, the stench of human urine is almost overwhelming. Get ready to hand out more cigarettes during the two-block walk to Shacklee Terrace.

Inside the door — clean air, clean floors, clean people. Won’t have to endure Hell again for eight more hours.

All the above happens in less than fifteen minutes. All of it happens before 7:00 AM. The commute home will be worse. By late afternoon, the bums will all be awake, they will all be drunk or drugged out, they will be more aggressive and maybe no longer placated by my offer of smokes instead of cash.

And in San Francisco, they have more rights than I do.


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