“Thanks for visiting mom and dad!”
My parents had traveled all the way from Philadelphia to visit me in San Francisco. I was excited. They don’t travel often, so this was my chance to show them how cool the city was.
They’re also pretty conservative, so my role for the weekend would be part tour guide and part Fox News. I’d have to turn the San Francisco experience into a conservative one they wouldn’t hate.
On the first day of their trip we went to grab subs from Deli Board, one of my favorite spots in the city. This place is my kryptonite: if I ever for some reason lose all ambition and drive in my life, at least I can be somewhat happy getting fat and slamming Deli Board on the daily.
Deli Board’s only blemish is that it’s on 6th and Folsom. If you know San Francisco, you know that’s the one area in Soma where the Tenderloin broke through Market Street’s defensive line and is doing a crazy dance in the endzone. It was a risk taking my parents there, but one I was willing to chance to get to my urban lunch mecca.
For the most part, I love living in San Francisco. There are loads of smart people, lots of cool happenings in tech, and the weather is awesome. Seriously, those that complain should try living somewhere where you see the sun once a month during winter. Or a place where getting caught in a rainstorm means you actually get wet, not just a light film of mist on your shirt.
I’ve also gotten really lucky with my living situation and have managed to make friends quickly. All in all, I’m enjoying my time here. There are tons of cool street fairs, free concerts, and even a summer Chipotle festival. That sealed the deal for me.
Like any city, there are downsides. It’s expensive, and is the only place in the country where rent prices are partially determined by Facebook’s stock price: I actually met someone who’s rent went up several hundred dollars within weeks of Facebook’s IPO.
Plus, it has “character.” Lots of it. As my parents were about to find out.
Being a beautiful San Francisco day, I decided it’d be nice if we enjoyed our Deli Board outside in the park by the sub shop. First mistake.
We sit down to partake in the sub-of-the-gods. After I was halfway through, some homeless men sat down on a bench near us. My parents looked disturbed.
“Yeah, San Francisco has a bit of a homeless problem. It’s a problem in that the city basically turned out their mental institutions in the 80s and there are some drug addicts out here. It can be depressing.”
Then they started smoking crack.
For a second, I hoped this was a generational thing. My parents wouldn’t know what “crack” was, or what it looked like. It could be a health substance they were ingesting.
They knew. They’re not idiots, just really uncomfortable watching drug addiction and homelessness hold hands on a park bench. There are few things that are more of a departure from normal suburban life than sitting next to two homeless men as they take turns roasting a crack rock.
Fine. Weird, but they can handle themselves. We’ll just finish our Deli Board and I’ll take them to Twin Peaks like we planned.
Ignoring the crackheads, we continued to eat lunch. In my peripherals I spotted another man approaching us – a man I could only hope was going to let us eat in peace. When I turned to look at him, my hopes were crushed. There’s no way my parents are coming back once they realize he’s walking right towards us. Not because he was dirty, or smelly, or smoking crack.
They weren’t coming back because he was holding a sword.
This was a new one, even for me. Apparently, Man With A Sword had gotten his bike stolen in the park just seconds before walking over, sword brandished, and asking if we’d seen anyone riding a white bike. Or the police.
“NoIhaventsorrybuddy” I spit at the person who’d just beheaded the last chance that my parents would ever visit me again. “We’ve been sitting here for 15 minutes and haven’t seen anything.”
He walked off. I quickly requested a cab and took them to Twin Peaks. $30 and one beautiful view later, I was in the clear.
They haven’t visited since.