Despite what everyone told me, in comparison to New York, San Francisco was not everything it was cracked up to be. Here are some busted myths:
1. San Francisco’s transit system is simpler than New York’s.
In downtown San Francisco, both the Muni and BART subways share stations. These two systems are about 100 times more dissimilar than the MTA and PATH – they don’t share fare collection systems, they have different rules and regulations, and they go to completely different places.
One night during my trip, I wanted to get to West Portal, which is near a Muni subway stop. I only had a $20 bill on me, and the station agent does not make change. How did he suggest I get change?
1. Go to a BART machine that makes change for $20 bills, receive 4 $5 bills.
2. Go to another BART machine at the opposite end of the station that makes change for $5 bills, receive 5 $1 bills.
3. Go to a third BART machine that generates both tickets and change, receive 8 quarters for two $1 bills.
4. Use 6 quarters in the turnstile, pass through, and take a “proof of payment” transfer receipt. If a police officer catches you without this slip, you can be fined up to $500, despite the fact that this is a fare-controlled area, and there is no way to get into the station or onto the train without passing through a turnstile.
This is the equivalent of being told you have to go to an NJ Transit machine to purchase a single-ride Metrocard, and being threatened with a massive fine if you don’t hold onto your receipt for a $2 subway ride. And you think we New Yorkers live in a police state!
2. San Francisco is cleaner than New York.
One of my friends, a newly-christened San Franciscan, told me, “you can eat off the sidewalks here.” I don’t know what plates he eats off of, but I would never even touch the sidewalk in San Francisco. My shoes feel dirty just walking there.
You see, San Francisco is teeming with homeless people far above what I’ve ever seen in New York. San Francisco is a temperate climate, so the homeless can stay outside year-round with few problems. And it especially doesn’t help that the city of San Francisco gives their homeless welfare checks.
I have never seen more puke stains on city streets before in my life. In the morning, there were piles of puke stewing in the middle of the sidewalk, remnants of their welfare money spent on alcohol and drugs. And they don’t even have the courtesy to puke in the gutter!
3. San Francisco is gayer than New York.
In three full days in San Francisco, I did not once see a same-sex public display of affection. In fact, I did not see a same-sex couple hold hands. I don’t even recall seeing a rainbow flag. I didn’t realize this until Sunday afternoon, when I saw two men in a bar in North Beach wearing glittery eyeshadow, presumably as part of the Italian Heritage Parade that took place earlier in the day.
“You know what,” I told my friend, “I’ve been in San Francisco for nearly 72 hours, and that’s the gayest thing I’ve seen here. I see gayer things in New York on daily basis.” So, no need to fear God’s wrath, San Franciscans! We’ve got you beat when it comes to Sodomites, too!