Life In The Hotel Ramshackle

I wrote this about three years ago, after Dorian and I had been in San Francisco for a little over a year. I had a very crappy part-time job and was still receiving unemployment, so life was such as this..

We live in a hotel on Market Street here in San Francisco.

It could be worse. I’ve seen some of the hotels in the Tenderloin district, where welcome mats are made out of poo and even the roaches have tiny little guns.

One time I was riding a bus that stopped in front of one of the Tenderloin’s finest establishments, the “Hotel Cesspool,” and there was an old man in a wheelchair with a lady helping him. They didn’t appear as if they wanted to board the bus so the driver started to close the door, but the lady yelled at him..

“HEY! What you doing? We wants on da bus! OPEN DA DOOR!!!”

The driver opened the door and engaged the automatic ramp. It takes a minute to fold out and lower to the sidewalk, so the lady dashed over to a corner behind the bus stop, whipped out a crack pipe and blazed a bit. She finished just in time to get on the bus with her charge and push his chair into position. She was suddenly in a VERY good mood.

“We on da bus now! Thank you driver! We goin’ up to Fulton! Das, FULTON! Driver, you let us off at FULTON okay? FULLLLLLLTONNNNNN!!!!”

The driver grunted his acknowledgment and off we went.

I’ve been to some nice places around here too, like a condo over on the Embarcadero that’s owned by some hot Asian chick, and I walk by The Four Seasons a few blocks down from us almost every day. The Four Seasons has doormen who are immaculately dressed and polite. They smile and nod, with their hands folded in front of them and sense of duty clearly on display.

Across from The Four Seasons is The Ritz Carlton, with even better looking doormen who are nicer and better dressed. Not far from that is the Millenium Tower, where it costs about a thousand dollars every time you flush your toilet when you have a suite up in that building. It’s so tall and the view is so great that penthouse residents can just barely see their modesty, even if they have extremely powerful telescopes.

The doormen at The Millenium Tower aren't even human. They're real, bonafide angels who did so well they got a promotion.

Dorian and I are at an in-between place right now, The Hotel Ramshackle. That’s not its real name. It was built ages ago, and has shared bathrooms and showers. Yes, we don't have an actual bathroom right in our apartment. We're working toward that goal someday, but for now we shuffle down the hall and back.

The management team of Frank and Shirley (not their real names) is pretty top-notch. They do a good job of keeping miscreants and scofflaws out of the building. The bathrooms and showers are locked in case the miscreants and scofflaws actually get in and want to relieve themselves, then practice hygiene. So we have to take a key when going to the bathroom.

One time a miscreant got in who proved to be a scofflaw too, and BOY! That was fun. Frank threw him out while Shirley yelled, which is what each of them are best at.

Our neighborhood is the Civic Center, which is a cross between the Tenderloin and The Financial District, with a little more leaning to the Tenderloin. We have our share of “colorful characters,” of which I’m one. But a lot of them are more colorful than me, if by “colorful” we're implying that they're out of their minds on drugs, alcohol or both.

A guy the other night started yelling about something or other, then kicked all the trash cans over so that trash spewed out onto Market Street, creating a big mess. A cop saw it and made him clean it up. It was hilarious. The cop got some back-up because I guess the guy was a dangerous scofflaw, so the scenario I watched from my second floor perch was six big SFPD officers all standing around looking burly with their thumbs hitched into their belts while a drunk guy picked up trash.

I really need to get a decent camera.

During the day we get the vintage MUNI F-cars going by every ten minutes, all-day-long. They rattle and clink down the track, taking about ten times as long to reach the Castro district as the MUNI trains that whoosh underneath of them, which in turn are put to shame by the BART trains that REALLY whoosh underneath THEM.

That’s right, we have a vintage streetcar on the surface and under it, a train track that you can’t see and under that, a rail for an even faster train that you really can’t see.

There is a tree outside our window that's rooted firmly into the sidewalk. Hopefully it will bloom soon, and shower pretty little blossoms on the passers-by below.

We have a lot of sirens attached to emergency vehicles which go by all day long and several times during the night, since this is a main corridor to and from the hospital. We have a lot of street people, fights, yelling and the occasional crashing sound of something being destroyed. Once in a while we’ll hear tires skid followed by that dreaded crunch of metal, and the yelling that follows.

It’s one big cacophony of swirling energy, that only slows at night but never ceases.

Frank and Shirley try their best, but there are fights in our building too. Not often though. Someone likes to throw trash out a window above us onto the street below. There are bugs, and we’ve decided to domesticate them since we can’t seem to eradicate them. We give them names just before we squash them. “Hey Lance!” ~SQUOOSH~

We live over a newly opened dollar store called “Dollar King,” which has a banner strung under our window. My desk is right over the word “KING,” so if you stand across the street and look over, you see me sitting here typing in the window with a huge banner under me that has the word KING on it. It’s quite flattering.

We’ve lived in nicer places. Quieter places. More expensive places without so much excitement. But for now, and just for now, we’d not be anywhere else.

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