Like most modern, large cities, San Francisco has no shortage of
homelessness or panhandlers. What I was unaware of was the level of
I had to do a mid-afternoon run to Walgreens to drop off some photos to
be developed. While I was standing there the manager was detained by a
guy pressuring him to “cut me a deal, man” such that the juice that was
on sale would have a similar price discount applied to another juice.
The manager insisted that that was not possible and after a bit of a
give and take the customer relented and went on his merry way.
As luck would happen the price-conscious patron was headed to the corner
by my office to meet up with his wife and daughter. As he approached
the little girl, adorably perched on a retaining wall edge yelled: “It’s
Daddy! I want kisses!”
“My goodness,” thought I, “the man was doing it for his family!” I was
touched by the dream of a scrappy family minding the dimes and quarters
in this Maybach and Cristal city. I headed back to the office slightly
warmer from the emotional sunshine.
A few hours later it was time to leave and as I reapproached the same
corner. There I saw the wife and the adorable daughter. Daughter was
swinging on mom’s leg, mom held a cup out, a sign was up asking for
As I lingered reconciling what I was seeing with what I had seen, I
peeked quickly but keenly through the tall grasses in the garden behind
the aforementioned retaining wall. There I could hear Daddy sniffling.
I suppose he was there to lurk out of scene to make sure that the girls
weren’t interfered with in their money-making.
I walked away a bit more jaded than I was before.
I came to a woman seated on the sidewalk with two dirty tots sitting
next to her on a flattened cardboard box. The cup was out. An older
gentleman in a find hat passed them and turned back with a dollar in his
To the poor or to the pimps?