Powell St. station. Dublin / Pleasanton Westbound home. Two trains short of the drunk train. At least, that’s what we called the last South Shore train back home.

We met up with Katie’s father for dinner just off the Embarcadero. He’s in town for a lawyer conference. We had quite the exceptional time with him. The restaurant had a great view of the Bay Bridge and a palm tree-lined plaza. Those two picked great entrees and wine throughout the evening.

We met one of his old associates from Chicago in the hotel before we left. The associate begged off dinner for the following night because of some case he said he had to get back to. Poker instincts tell me the associate oversold his excuse, thereby was full of shit. I don’t know more than that. Otherwise he seemed like a good guy.

The associate asked me if I was enjoying San Francisco. I fumbled over the answer. My conversation skills from my agency & meetup-hosting days seem to be getting rusty. I wanted to say that I love most everything about the Bay Area but the prices and downtown San Fran, but you don’t say that when your father-in-law is taking you and your wife out in said city.

And it’s not that I hate the city. The downtown is twice as pretentious & half as impressive as Chicago but
the Embarcadero is internationally resplendent with all the bayside dining and walking spaces. My favorite part of San Francisco is Haight-Ashbury. A little tourist-y up but still with core Deadheads.

The biggest problem with the city of San Francisco is that there are more homeless than consumers peppering the downtown streets after 10pm.

It’s post-apocalyptic, something out of The Walking Dead – especially around the train stations. Some of them surprise me with their modern camping gear. Some startle me with their youth. Some groups sit around retail stores on Powell Street with rustic tambourines, ducibels, and Alvarezes, singing folk songs in unison – they deserve record deals.

I don’t know their situations. I don’t know the sob stories from the scammers. I’ve heard the stories of the some of the homeless are Nevada mental patients sent here on one-way bus tickets. I’m told that the homeless get a monthly stipend of $300 a month or so for food and puppy patrol or something like that. I don’t know what’s true and I guess it’s on me to look it up. All I know is that we want to show our family the best of Bay Area when they fly out here, but when there are more pan handlers than patrons, providing vaudeville in hopes we spare what dimes we don’t have left from living in the most expensive area in the country, it causes pause for concern.

The previous paragraph is what I wanted to say when I paused at the associate’s question. I guess while I’m twiddling away in the workshop during the week I need to start taking more time to consider my thoughts because someday, hopefully soon, I’ll need my wit sharpened to speak in public.

That said…

If you can adjust to the cost of living, there are few places more incredible to live in than Bay Area. Never too hot, never too cold. The jobs are on the cutting edge of technology. The wineries are literally across the street from where we live. But the black eye in the area is downtown San Francisco. I feel for those truly in need, but I can’t help but fear about what went wrong. Is it an apocryphal sign of things to come for our new home or is a flaw in the system?

Until someone more political than I sort takes the non-prestigious time to sort it out, I’ll stick to avoiding it unless told to otherwise. Luckily the family we had out tonight was an ex Marine officer / JAG Corp lawyer who’s now a condo lawyer in Chicago. He’s seen much worse so he could step over the sleeping bags while admiring the classical moldings on historic buildings as we walked down California Avenue. We’re not always gonna be so lucky. I had to pull Katie close a couple times when a couple of them staggered her way, eyes spinning in their heads. Who knows what could happen if we don’t have our heads on swivels when walking those streets.

In a related note-it’s time to get back on the push-up regimen.

[Pardon the punctuation errors. I wrote this left-handed whole in the Dublin train. Katie was asleep and gently holding my other hand. And I apologize for not taking pictures. If I was by myself or with some friends, I would have. I act a little more protective when Katie’s around. That said, she’s probably gonna kick my butt when she reads this.]

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