I debated calling this post: Why I like SF, Reason #37.
I didn't. Because this one kind of fits better. You see, San Francisco is a very homeless-friendly place to be. I don't think I see a day pass when I don't see someone hand a homeless person their lunch, offer money, or just stop to listen.
I like that about the city. It seems like the right thing to do. But there's a point, I guess, at which it gets out of hand.
Yesterday I was doing my laundry -- 5 loads, normal for me -- in a Laundromat on Geary Street. I had just returned to take my laundry from the dryers when a homeless guy walked in. He was wearing two coats. The top one was filthy, kinda like a down-filed jacket, the undercoat was quite nice --a black leather jacket full of silver accessories. Anyway, he told me it was hot, I nodded in agreement, as we're having an early summer bit of the old heatwave. So he takes off his outer coat, the down-filled thing, and pushes it in the washer. He then yells, "Are these the dollar fifty washers?" Another customer tells him no, they are $2. (Blogger's note: They've been $2 for like 8 months now, where's this guy been?). So I quietly begin to unload my clean laundry out onto one of the counters, hoping he doesn't feel the need to talk. Or stand near where I'm working (I know how I'd smell wearing two coats on an unseasonably warm SF day). So I'm folding and basketing and shaking out the cat hair (maybe I should use Bounce?) that managed to thumb it's nose at the dryer's centrifugal suction when he walks by. I think he's leaving for now, but before he reaches the door he turns back and stops at my counter. Stupidly, I look. That's an invitation for unwanted conversation every time.
"Hey man, you got a towel I could use?" I give him a questioning gaze as I tuck the middle of a white towel under my chin and bring my hands together.
"I need to wash my pants. They're really, really funky, and I need something to cover myself with."
I look at him, at the towel I've just folded. Before I know what I'm doing, I hand him the towel. "Here you go," I say, then quickly return my gaze to my laundry. But he's still there, so before he can do more than thank me, I say. "Keep it."
A half hour later, the dawn turning to night, I'm driving down the road with a full basket and two laundry bags of refreshed clothing in the back seat, I pull up to a traffic light. I turn to my right, for no reason though reason enough, and from the elevated cab of a Muni bus, the driver looks down at me, waves, and giggles like a school girl. A second later the light changes and we both pull off.
I must have thought about that bizarre interaction even longer than I thought about the homeless guy with the towel around his waist.
Yeah, I like the city.
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- This is me and one of my two cats. His name is Cougar, and he’s an F1 Chausie. A chausie is a new breed of cat under development. Chausies are the result of a cross between a domestic cat (in Cougar’s case, a Bengal) and a jungle cat (Felis Chaus). Cougar’s mom is 8 pounds and his father is a 30-pound jungle cat. He’s about 16 pounds, super intelligent, spirited, and toilet trained. A writer without a cat (or two) is not to be trusted.