Beautiful and Troubled

Living in the Empty Nest in San Francisco

City Hall San Francisco — Photo by Sydney Chaney Thomas

San Francisco of the modern day reminds me of a woman who is beautiful, but troubled. I moved to San Francisco nine months ago because I thought it held an opportunity for me to give back and make a difference. My factory for Ocean SF is here, my sailing community is here, and my work in leadership is here, but I didn’t consider what the real San Francisco looks and feels like now because I was so entirely charmed by its beauty.

San Francisco has a very dark side that has always been here, we just choose to ignore it. The Tenderloin and Market Street have always been shady and full of drugs and crime. I know because I worked as a Project Manager at the tech center on Market and Van Ness when I was young. I got off at Civic Center Bart and even then it wasn’t safe. But, in an act of pure deliberate ignorance, I moved back to San Francisco anyway. I think in many ways I wanted to go back in time and reclaim my former self after raising a family in the suburbs. I missed the girl who wore suede kitten heels, dark tights, and a herringbone overcoat and loved technology. I worked in electronic banking and on projects like automated bill pay, debit card, and ATM cards. That girl literally believed the world was her oyster. Back then, I smoked Dunhill cigarettes. I would walk down Market Street smoking and be chased by people asking for a cigarette. I remember that part clearly as buying Dunhill Cigarettes was not an easy task. You had to go to the smoke shop in the Financial District to find them. So I would hand out dollar bills instead. As much as people want to believe that San Francisco has really changed much of it has not, but there has been a tipping point where the tourists and business people are now a small minority of the people you see on the streets.

I took a walk around San Francisco yesterday and although it was a beautiful soft spring day it was not pretty. Recently a security guard killed a customer at Walgreens on Market Street. The fact that I just walked by the store and didn’t even think about it is fairly alarming in itself.

Police said the preliminary investigation determined that a theft allegedly occurred during the incident. The investigation identified the shooting suspect who had been detained as 33-year-old Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, who was working as a private security guard, reportedly at the Walgreens store.

— CBS News

It’s really pretty alarming that this 24-year-old woman was killed at 6:30 p.m. on a random Thursday for shoplifting. This is the new San Francisco. The other alarming thing about my walk was all of the boarded-up retail space. The city has been literally gutted. Now, Anthropology is moving out. And, rumors of Macy’s closing in Union Square are circulating. All of this coincides with my lease coming up for renewal.

I talked to a friend of mine the other day and she told me she has given up hope for San Francisco. Is it time to quit this beautiful and troubled city? Maybe. Even Bob Lee’s murder which was quickly and conveniently solved has been unraveling as the defendant’s lawyer now says that there is no real evidence to support their theory. Why if Bob Lee knew his killer did he walk around saying that someone stabbed him and didn’t say that the defendant stabbed him?

Are we back to this being a random killing? Because his lawyer is very certain he is not guilty and has stated she has not seen any evidence to prove that he committed the murder. She also said,

“My client is a super nice person. His family loves him and supports him,” Paula Canny told NBC Bay Area. “There is so much more to this and a much greater backstory than is disclosed.” — NBC News

Financial District San Francisco — Photo by Sydney Chaney Thomas

Whole Foods has also left Mid-Market due to crime and who can blame them? Yet, San Francisco insists that it is safe to live here. I’m not seeing evidence of that.

I will need to commit to another year here soon or move somewhere else. The problem is I’ve never been much of a quitter…

2 thoughts on “Beautiful and Troubled

  1. Great read, story and enlightenment of what the city of San Francisco and most of the west coast has become.


    1. Thank you Jeff. It’s really unsettling especially with Forbes listing San Francisco as the #2 best city for young professionals!


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