T as in Tenderloin

Tenderloin… Mmm, sounds kinda’ juicy, right? A nice little tenderloin steak with fries or mash, and an extra side like coleslaw or some sweet corn (on a cob)? Think again. Welcome to another side of Tenderloin; the one that will cost you more than you could imagine to get to experience in its raw nature.

The Tenderloin is the thing that turns San Francisco into one big “economical context-contradiction”; smack in the middle of central SF, with the highest number of homeless people in the entire US. The T hosts everything from sleeping on the street, literally, to The Hilton, with it’s 46th floor rooftop bar combined with the most expensive hotel beds in the city. In fact, when you step outside the doors of The Hilton you don’t have to walk more than like 60 feet before you might stumble on someone who’s embedded in a blanket, pressed up against the wall of the building trying to find some shelter from the wind and cold.

The Hub, EF’s own residence, is only three blocks west of The Hilton and surrounded by some of the weirdest individuals you’ll meet. You never know who to run into or what you’ll have your eyes be exposed to. Our door is like a gateway to a safe haven in the middle of a social havoc. This creates an environment that is equally frightening and fascinating; no matter how you decide to look at it you’ll end up with a context that a European really isn’t used to.

The T, though full of dirty streets and what seems to be a never-ending number of people who the government hopes for will just fall off the wagon, is in a transition face; the “T” is more and more related to “trendy” and a lot of new restaurants and clubs keep popping up on the streets between California and Market.

It would be interesting to go back here in like 10 years to see how this place has changed, what turn of events that might have made an impact on turning it into something completely different. It’s not for a lack of potential, that’s one thing for sure. You can’t helot feel that something can be done to “save” the people who have made these streets their home.

Everywhere you go here you’re surrounded by people asking you for money, trying to make due for the day; “spare a dollar for a brother?”, “any change to help me be able to eat tonight?”, “please sir, I don’t know what to do…” … If you could you would like to help ’em all, and it breaks your heart when having to walk past them without answering, not to get “stuck” in a discussion where either your wallet or your conscience takes a hit. I do what I can to give them something but when you end up with a frown face (for not having offered more than a dollar, or giving them “some change”, it really flips the coin on the whole “conscience” situation.

One night I was on my way back when I walked past a man sitting on the sidewalk. This man didn’t say anything, wasn’t trying to make me leave him some change or nothing, even though it was obvious he was in the same situation s those who did. I don’t know why but there was something that made me want to stop and go back, offering my only one dollar bill (of course not an amount to make any fuzz about, just the action in itself) that my wallet carried at that time. Said and done, I took to a halt, turned around and approached him. I gave him the dollar bill with the words “you need this more than I do, I hope it will help you find something to feed you this dark night”. The look in his eyes was priceless; it made my day. His name was Mike, and we ended up being “friends”, talking about metal music, culture and history. From that night on I stopped by him every night on my way back, making sure he got the change that I could offer at the moment. Sadly I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to him, since I didn’t see him during my last two nights in SF.

No matter what: Mike, I hope you’re safe and that you find your way back.

This is my view of The Tenderloin. Mike is in the last pic, as a way of trying to make him symbolize and summarize my experience during my time there. That’s the least I can do.

 

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〈 NA 〉

 

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