The Financial District of San Francisco is a weird place. There are two worlds co-existing there.
What do you visualize when you hear Financial District?
I don’t know about you, but when I think of a Financial District I visualize tall shiny buildings, sparkly sidewalks, men in expensive suits and ties and women in tasteful dress suits and high heels with attaché cases in their hands, quickly racing around the city trying to get from one place to the next, acting like the world is going to end. It’s a fast paced environment that is full of some of the top earners of the Bay Area, actually of the world. It’s also a spectacular place filled with beautiful tall buildings.
I’m now part of that world, minus the high heels. I don’t do high heels, especially on cement. I also don’t do tasteful dress suits, but I’m digressing. If I had it my way I’d be wearing jeans and flip flops to work everyday and bringing my dog with me. But… I don’t have it my way.
I take the bus to work every morning. I arrive to the Financial District between 7:00 – 7:30 AM everyday. Some mornings it is still dark when I arrive. There’s a side of the Financial District that not everyone knows about. The financial district is home to many homeless people.
Early in the morning, when I arrive, there are people sleeping in the doorways of the buildings. The only thing protecting them from the rain and cold temperatures are the cardboard boxes they’re laying under. This is always a wake up call for me…
I’ll be sitting on the bus grumbling to myself, saying things like, “it’s not fair, why do I have to get up so early”, “this sucks, I’d rather be working from home” and a bunch of other negative chatter that runs through my mind during the wee hours despite my best efforts to stay positive and focus on what I’m grateful for.
Often while the negative cassette tape is on full repeat in my head, I will turn and look out the bus window and catch a homeless person at their first stirrings of the morning. I’ll see a little stretch, or see someone sit up and rub their eyes, or see someone gathering all of their belongings. When I see this, the cassette tape in my head makes that horrible squeely noise that cassette tapes makes and starts spinning out of control and the tape is left laying in a big mess in my head. (I know I am dating myself here… I don’t even think my kids know what that noise is.)
On the days when I arrive earlier, the streets often smell like urine. I’ve even accidentally stepped in vomit. While I was looking at my practical, yet stylish (not high heeled) business shoe with vomit on it, a homeless man quietly said sorry to me. I almost cried thinking how his situation is so much harder than mine. I said, “I hope you feel better” and went on my way.
Did you know that there are people who clean those streets every morning to keep them shiny and sparkly for the rest of us? Is it strange that we can afford to hire people to scrub our streets every day but we can’t afford to shelter the homeless people? We can afford to put up massive Christmas decorations, but we can’t afford to feed these people? and I include myself in the “WE”.
My office building located in the heart of San Francisco’s Financial District is doing a food drive. We have a big barrel in the lobby collecting cans. I can’t even remember to bring the cans in.
I don’t have any answers. I just know it’s a mind-f@#$ going to work everyday in the financial district. I hate that in our so called “first world country” our streets are filled with people sleeping on them because our shelters are too full or too dangerous.
I wish I had something inspirational to end this post with but I don’t. I love San Francisco! I think it is one of the most magical and amazing cities in the world. San Francisco is filled with love and acceptance. I think it is important to sometimes think about the not so magical parts of San Francisco because maybe if we do we will come up with a solution.
Here are some resources for the homeless and hungry in San Francisco:
- Affordable haircut in Marin
- Only in San Francisco