San Francisco Scares Me
2014-12-28, 11:17 p.m.
Today was kind of an emotionally wonky day. We went to Union Square in San Francisco, as Mom likes to do. We took BART over, went into the usual stores. Went to the Westin St. Francis, where they did a "sugar tree" this year instead of a castle. Mom was disappointed by that, but I figured the chef must have been really sick of making castles by now so oh well. Went around the square and took pictures of things, went in Macy's and ate at Boudin, etc. The usual traditions.
Here's where you are going to think I am an asshole, and you're right. I probably shouldn't be posting this at all because of the shit I will probably get, but there's no comments on Diaryland and it's 10:30 at night and I need to get an entry done and I'm not thinking with my filter on and it'd be a very short entry if I avoided this topic, so there you go. Please don't e-mail me about this, I know I'm horrible already, okay?
I am flat out terrified of homeless people. It's my #1 reason why I do not like cities in general and especially San Francisco in particular. I get a LOT less sexual harassment than most women get. Not to brag or anything, but I really do. It's probably because (a) I'm not generally considered attractive, and (b) I avoid cities most of the time, but I get a lot less shit than most. But....my worst incidents involve being harassed/literally grabbed on the street in broad daylight by old homeless men, who were ticked off that I wasn't paying attention to them and decided to by god MAKE ME pay attention to them. (And it's probably a reasonable guess that they were ticked off that I wasn't giving them money and sex, either. ) So I am pretty much wigging out every time I see any, but especially if they are trying to interact with me. I don't care if they want me to smile or what (one homeless guy in my town is now pulling that schtick), inwardly I'm begging them to go away.
San Francisco's homeless population is pretty infamous. But seriously, this was the worst I've ever seen it happen. I haven't been harassed on BART by anyone homeless in years, but they were out in full force today coming and going, walking through the cars and giving speeches about their problems and asking for money. Of course that's happening on the street too, but it was even worse than usual on Powell/Union Square area. Hell, one person was walking up to the tables in the restaurant area. I was just wigged out all damn afternoon and wanting to leave, but at the same time not wanting to ruin Mom's good time, and well, that's San Francisco for ya. She kept asking me what I wanted to do and I was trying to not say "leave, leave, this place is crazy."
But at the same time, I can't help but think that I'm an asshole because I don't hear a homeless person's sob story and want to help them. I don't want to dig out my wallet and give them money because I keep thinking if I do that, I make myself a target for robbery too. (Or worse, see above.) I don't want to interact with them and encourage...whatever....but at the same time I'm terrified that if I don't acknowledge them, they'll escalate their behavior again and REALLY go after me. Plus it's normally mean to totally ignore somebody, but....somehow we act like it's okay with homeless people. I got lucky today, I just kept looking down at my book and nobody decided to straight up get in my face about it. Maybe it was because I was with Mom and not alone--the behavior gets worse if I"m a walking vagina on the street alone and that's when they've really gone after me. But I felt bad anyway. Either way, I just don't get why Mom loves this city so much. So much snobby richery in Union Square (jeebus, going in Neiman Marcus, the clothing prices are ridiculous) and so much poverty all at once. And literally all the cars and people are blocking every damn intersection at every point and I am never driving in this town if I can avoid it. People are crazy here.
I attempted to have a conversation with Mom after we were finally off BART about this--she's a nicer person than me, she tries to help everyone we know, doesn't she feel bad about not helping the homeless? And she said no....mostly because well, I forgot she was a Republican and has certain not-great (bootstrappy) attitudes about this that I'm tactfully not going to repeat. She also mentioned a time where she bought some lady who apparently indicated she was starving a bunch of groceries and then the woman hauled them out to her Mercedes. "You don't know their situation," she said. "Or if they're going to rob you because you opened your wallet on the street." Which is true. Or if, well, they're crazy and interacting with them may be a spectacularly bad idea. She kept telling me to not feel badly about myself, but....well, I still think I"m an asshole for not wanting to help total strangers who might be nuts, on some level. I don't know how you can't not feel that way. But at the same time, I can't help but feel that it's possibly dangerous to engage, especially being the weaker gender and all.
After getting back into town, we went to Deacon 'Dave's before closing. This year's theme is "Christmas Memories," with pictures of all of the years he's been doing it. This year they are asking for suggestions for themes on the website--I am guessing that after all of these years they are brain dead on ideas! Four proposals have happened on Proposal Bridge this year, which is adorable. He also broke the 400,000+ light barrier this year. I looked up the record holder, and those folks broke the 600,000 light barrier.
He wasn't out that night--we could see him talking in his living room with some other guy--but Mom talked to the lady at the door a bit and said to tell him that she said hi, and he came out to say hi back. Which was sweet. I wore the goat sweater to show him (with the lights on) and he liked it, though I'm surprised that such a Christmas-obsessed guy who's gone to Europe to shop hasn't heard of the goat. (Who has totally survived past Christmas, you guys! They plan on dismantling him and bringing him to China now!) Mom inquired about his health--apparently he had some freak wackadoo mystery illness come on on all of our birthdays this year (his, mine, and Mom's, ouch) and he said he got asked to go to Vatican City but is afraid to leave medical care. That's reasonable. He seemed good otherwise, but said those incidents came on out of nowhere and he nearly died, so he was lucky to be here. For the incident in May, someone said to call a priest and five of them came in! Anyway, here's to hoping he doesn't ever have that problem again, fingers crossed.
I donated money at his house, for what that's worth. If that's worth much of anything.