Busride Observations homeless man My San Francisco Chronicles

Homeless man and his luggage.

While on the bus ride home today, a homeless man boarded the bus with several pieces of luggage. He had a band-aid across his nostrils and he kept getting in the way of others since his luggage was quite cumbersome. I was sitting in a window seat and trying to read to distract myself from his presence near me. I feared that the woman beside me would leave and then the man would sit down beside me since I was sitting in one of the “wider” seats, i.e., there was more space between my row and the row in front.

My fear came true as I watched my bus mate stand up and exit through the back door of the bus. The man took that opportunity to stake the claim on the seat (well, he asked others first if they wanted to sit); he proceeded to box me into my window seat with his luggage and then he sat down beside me. I scooted closer to the window and attempted to stay as far away from him as possible. I was feeling slightly paranoid since we had been talking at work about strange characters in the city, so I held my guard up in case the guy would try to swipe my belongings.

Around ten blocks before my stop, I stopped reading so I could focus on where I was; the guy noticed I was finished reading and assumed I was getting off soon. “Getting off?” he asked me. I shook my head “No” and he then said, “Oh okay, well let me know when you’re getting off so I can move my stuff; you don’t want me to fall asleep and leave you trapped!”

My guard was still up, but after a few seconds, I realized the guy was pretty harmless. He began to ask me about what book I was reading (Catch-22) and he mused, “It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book, but I used to love reading so much.” I relaxed and shook my head as he had a monologue (I think he got the hint that I was not overly interested in talking with him, sadly) about his past love for reading, and then talking about painkillers numbing him.

Once it was time for my stop, the man moved his belongings over to another seat so that I would have a clear path to get out of the bus. I had pulled out a small snack from my lunch bag, intending to give it to him, but since he moved to a row further up in the bus, the opportunity already seemed lost. When he settled into his new seat with his bags, he looked exhausted.

I boarded off the bus and felt a twinge of sadness as I watched him go on his way. I wonder where he was headed; towards the beach? Towards the far edge of Golden Gate Park? In many ways, he reminded me of my short story “Riches to Rags” and I wondered about his life story.

homeless man Hot Dog Days My San Francisco Chronicles rant

Homeless guy harasses two young hot dog vendors…

Today, had an interesting encounter at the hot dog stand.

So, there are quite a few homeless people who hang around Union Square. There’s this one guy, who wears a hat, a yellow and blue jacket, and he looks of Asian descent. He occasionally begs customers for a hot dog at our stands, and most times someone eventually buys him a hot dog. Today, he was approaching an Italian woman about buying him a hot dog, and my co-worker was just telling him (kindly yet bluntly) that he could not beg standing so closely to our customers. It is indeed a law/rule that people cannot beg/solicit so close to a business…anyway, the guy became super defensive against my co-worker, and an argument ensued. The whole time, I was standing behind the cart with the food, trying to monitor the food temperatures.

Next thing I knew, I heard a bag of chips fall from the rack and I thought the homeless guy had tried to steal a bag of chips, my co-worker yelled out “YOU MOTHERFXXXER!” and I heard the homeless guy run off.

Me: “Did he try to steal…?”
Co-worker: “No, he tried to, but he just smashed the bag of chips on the counter. Hmph.”

Meanwhile, we still had our Italian customer standing at the cart, a little spooked by the encounter, but nonetheless still ordering a hot dog and paying for her food. My co-worker then focused on the customer, but I noticed the homeless guy coming back to our stand and I felt a little scared as to what he was going to do next. I saw him approach the condiments section and then I heard a loud “SQUIRT”.

The Italian woman gasped and then turned to my co-worker, asking her if she had seen what had just happened. I went around to the front of the cart and saw that the guy had just made a mess with the mustard by squirting it all over the sidewalk. How….smart.

After that encounter, my co-worker and I stood behind the cart, ranting about how “lucky” the homeless are in the city. They have so many shelters they can go to for food, and so many tourists come by and feel sorry for the homeless so they are able to gain a lot of money through their begging. The weather stays temperate year-round here, so they never have to freeze to death. And what was the point of the guy for harassing us anyway? My co-worker was being as polite as she could towards him, but he took huge offense against us.

It’s not our problem that he’s homeless; it’s not like he can’t help his own situation.

Anyway…after that incident, my co-worker said that next time she’ll take a picture of the guy and report him to the police/security at Union Square. We’ll see what happens next.

homeless man Hot Dog Days My San Francisco Chronicles observation Work Diaries

Cat Peddler and Mustard/Mayonnaise.

So over the course of my workdays, I have noticed certain homeless people hovering around the cart. I’m guessing in the past they have had run-ins with the cart, so now they know not to tread too closely.

Anyway, yesterday and today I worked the cart in front of Macy’s, and have found myself amused by the “cat peddler”. I’ve seen it and its owner around before; saw them back in March when I first started working. Basically, what appears to be a cat begging for money is actually its owner being “clever” and placing the cat with its catbed and a dish for money. Oblivious people walk by, see the cat, feel pity, and drop some money. Only after they drop the money do they realize that the owner had been standing by the whole time–he usually says “Thank you” after the people give money to the cat.

The past two days, I’ve noticed not as many people falling for the trick. Either people have just been overlooking the cat or they have caught onto the cat owner’s trick. To me, the guy who owns the cat doesn’t look TOO bad off–perhaps he is homeless, but he doesn’t look the part really. He just looks lazy to me–maybe low-income, but not homeless. I rarely notice when he arrives at his “reserved spot”–he comes in like a ninja most of the time.

Anyway, that’s one observation I’ve made over the past two days. Today, I was “introduced” to another “regular” homeless; the girl walked up to me and asked me for four mayonnaise packets and four mustard packets. She seemed a little doped out in some way, but I wasn’t sure–but anyway, that was all she asked for; didn’t ask for free food. She asked me if I was new, so that probably meant that she’s been around the carts a bit, too.

Last but not least, I think there’s either a homeless or crazy (or both) guy who runs around cursing/yelling. Sounds like he has Tourette’s Syndrome. I heard him this morning yelling obscenities about how “Americans should own America, etc. etc.” and he kept saying the f-bomb. I had noticed him before around another cart; at first glance, I thought he was just a normal guy walking around with his wife/girlfriend. But then I noticed him yelling loudly and cursing constantly, and that made me realize “Ooh….something not right with him.” Meanwhile, the whole time he’s yelling/cursing, his female partner walks beside him calmly, either because she’s embarrassed and doesn’t know how to control him, or she’s so used to him now that she’s become oblivious to his actions.

I’m sure there are other more interesting characters around, but I haven’t encountered them yet.

funny homeless man My San Francisco Chronicles observation

Beware the man behind the bush!

Okay, the title might be a little bit off, but nonetheless, here’s some information that might be helpful for tourists or locals alike in San Francisco:

Along Jefferson Street in the Fisherman’s Wharf area, there’s a homeless/crazy man who hides behind several branches from a tree and scares people all day by “breaking through” the bush and screaming at whoever is unsuspecting. Not sure if he actually gets money for this, but hell, it brings a lot of attention to him.

My friend actually fell into the trap last October when we were walking along Jefferson Street. We weren’t paying attention, and all the sudden, the guy comes out from behind his branches and goes “WHOAOAOOAOAOOOAO!” at us; I just shook a little bit, but my friend screamed really loud. Little did we know that we had an audience watching us (other people walking by) and they were laughing at our reactions.

Today I was walking along and noticed a lot of people stopped at a stretch of the road; at first I thought these people were staring at the dancing tin-men (we have those over there, too). After a few minutes of trying to find what these people were staring at, I did see the man hiding behind his branches and chuckled to myself. The guy seems to have a captive audience now; I need to go and videotape him for Youtube.