I think of this city as one of those really, really hot chicks who are bad in bed, because they never had to try. She never has to wise up, because there's always another young, horny guy ready to jump in the sack with her to replace the jaded, frustrated one who just left. Ready to buy her expensive things, to shop at her co-op grocery stores, to pay her exorbitant rent.
And so every day, countless SF residents (who have the audacity to consider themselves "foodies") spend ridiculous amounts of money on totally mediocre dining experiences and then rave about said experiences on Yelp, thus adding to the false perception of culinary greatness in this city. Ah, yes, I could relate many a harrowing tale of $150 meals that were barely worth $50, or "prix fixe" menus that seem reasonably priced until you realize that every good thing on the menu is considered an "add on" and costs $25 extra.
But this post isn't about that. It's about the eclectic group of people in SF that have decided to give the one-fingered salute to the restaurant industry by resorting to, nay, embracing the primitive tactic of scavenging.
We're undoubtedly all familiar with the sights, sounds and smells of street people begging for food. That's sadly not at all uncommon. But, before moving to SF, I had never before seen anything like the sight I saw a few months after moving here: a woman sitting in the middle of the Embarcadero sidewalk, facing a glorious view of the San Francisco Bay, with a full-sized trashcan in her lap, nestled snuggly between her thighs, out of which she was directly eating as though it were a cafeteria tray. That's some serious dedication to freeganism, let me tell you.
A part of me really wants to respect this radical method for putting the snooty, overpriced restaurants of SF in their place. But a much bigger part of me is revolted by the idea of living like a feral dog.
Of course, the general idea of random homeless and possibly schizophrenic people eating garbage is not particularly revolutionary. But in San Francisco, this kind of behavior is not limited to the homeless. Hardly. For instance on Monday, an apparently healthy, clean, stylishly-dressed woman came up to me as I was clearing my table at the mall food court and asked if she could have my leftovers.
Confused, I double-checked to make sure she wasn't part of the janitorial staff. In her studded jeans and sparkly top, she most definitely was not. Then I double-checked my plate to see if I had anything really amazing on there that I'd overlooked somehow. I saw pieces of fat I had trimmed from my steak, a half-eaten slice of squash and a quarter of an onion. Then I looked back at her again, wondering if I was somehow hallucinating the whole encounter.
"I'm just really hungry," she said, with a slight twitch. I glanced around at the countless food stands around us, many that were providing free (and clean) samples. I stood awkwardly for awhile, but I found neither an explanation for her behavior nor a sufficiently compelling reason to refuse to let her eat my garbage. Eventually I handed her my tray with a mumbled "I guess..." and she took it eagerly, sat down where I had been sitting moments before, and proceeded to chow down, without even bothering to get clean (and free) silverware first.
My brain was reeling on overload. Why did an obviously affluent, normal-seeming woman risk taking reject-food from a complete stranger? For all she knew, I could be patient zero for mono-herpes-Ebola-AIDS. The saliva she was eagerly sucking off my used fork could be teeming with the rabies virus!
Then I realized:
-It's Monday on a holiday weekend.
-She's wearing party clothes at noon in a food court.
-Her clothes, while nice and new, obviously have more than 3 hours of wear on them.
-I've seen a well-off person get the extreme munchies at this time of day while being mysteriously short on cash, trembling slightly and still wearing party clothes from the night before a few times in the past: my crack head ex-roommate and Katie Holmes in the movie Go.
As my significant other often remarks: meth's a bitch.