“Oh, you’re getting so big! Look at you!” Remember hearing that every time you saw your grandmother?
It’s a feeling that I am now all too familiar with. Every time I return from a trip – even if it’s just for a few days – it seems like my daughter has completely changed.
You don’t notice change when you are exposed to something everyday. Whether it’s your daughter or a city that you live in.
In order to really notice change, you have to see drastic differences…
I flew into San Francisco yesterday and took the BART into the city. For me, taking a train or subway is still a novelty, as I did not grow up using any public transportation, so I always take the BART.
I come to San Francisco several times a year. I’m certainly no expert on the city, but I definitely know what to expect when I’m here… but not this time.
When I got off the BART in downtown San Francisco, I was genuinely shocked. The scene that was in front of my eyes looked like it had been staged. It looked unreal.
There were literally dozens of homeless people waiting at this BART station to greet all of the people who had just arrived. They were aggressively harassing everyone who was exiting the station, and most of these people were tourists with their children. Not a great start to their family vacation.
But this wasn’t the truly shocking part…
As I was walking out of the station and up to the street level, there were people literally shooting up drugs in front of everyone. I’m talking needle in the arm, in broad daylight, as if it was totally normal.
Then, another person just dropped their pants and started to defecate all over the street. The amount of HUMAN feces on the streets here is shocking. Since yesterday, I have yet to walk down a street without smelling or seeing human excrement.
In addition to that, there is trash everywhere. More so than most third world cities I’ve been too.
If this all sounds like an exaggeration and unbelievable to you, then good – It is unbelievable!
Something is seriously wrong here. Something is broken.
This morning, I saw a cop parked up on the sidewalk, as there was no where to park his car. I walked up to his car and asked him, “What’s going on here? This place is a mess!”
He responded, “I know. We can’t keep up.”
“What’s going to happen? How do you fix this?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said. “But, this definitely isn’t sustainable. I’m embarrassed for my city when I see tourists walking down the street holding their noses shut. We’re supposed to be one of the top cities in the world. Not some giant toilet.”
And there’s more…
There is broken glass everywhere. It’s from people’s car windows getting broken from ‘smash and grab’ robbers.
Now, I don’t want to be completely negative. San Francisco is incredible. There are truly amazing things happening in this city and the talent that is congregated in this area is probably second to none.
It’s just very strange to see the extreme wealth and success juxtaposed to the filth and ‘broken-ness’.
I’m tempted to make some sort of comparison to our current stock market and economy in general. Kind of like, “Everything looks fancy and great on the surface, but it’s a big pile of crap just below.”
Perhaps we’ll find out later this year, as the market seems to be on the verge… of something.
Oh… and there is a reason why I’m here in SF. It has to do with China. I’ll tell you about it soon.