August 2, 2004
On Saturday we got accosted on the Golden Gate Bridge by a guy in lycra-bike shorts, USA flag t-shirt and wrap-around, reflecto shades. He looked so touristy and normal I didn’t flinch but his pitch was odd: “I got all my stuff stolen and I need $12. Can you help me?” Kathy said, “$12, that’s an odd number.” We walked away. As we stopped about 100 yards further on to look over the side, down at a gaggle of sail boat crews clammoring back and forth across the bows to avoid swamping, the guy passed us, so that when we continued strolling we could see him up ahead working everyone he met. After each encounter, when the people approached us, I would say, “Didn’t you think $12 was an odd number.” And they would laugh and agree. Finally after about six couples turned him down, a guy leaned in close (it was quite windy on the bridge) and we could see him reach in his pants. The guy’s girlfriend was at the rail looking our way and we were waving at her to not let her boyfriend cave in, but it was too late. It turned out the couple were from France, and the guy hit them up for $20 (Luckily the guy only got 50 cents). On the way back we met another family who had been hit up and the father said, “I grew up here and this is an old scam. They get dressed up and come out here to work the crowds. It throws you off because they don’t look like homeless people. They look legit.”
On Sunday morning Kathy went shopping at Macy’s, which takes up an entire city block at Union Square, and when she got done with her purchases she had an extra coupon for 15% off and as she walked out of the department she approached a guy shopping and held out the coupon, saying, “Would you like a coupon for 15% off?” The guy barked at her, “GET AWAY FROM ME!” Somewhat taken aback but not deterred, Kathy approached another guy, who reacted just as indignent: “No!” he ejaculated, like he would be an idiot to even touch the coupon. Perhaps there are so many scammers in San Fran that everyone is on high alert.
On Saturday night after a great dinner at John’s Grill, which is featured prominently in “The Maltese Falcon” by Dashielle Hammett, we were walking through Union Square on our way back to the Hilton and at the crosswalk this street person is yelling forlornly, “Raj! Raj!” and Kathy says, “He needs my help.” (Kathy is a therapist and her mother’s a nurse). I, on the other hand am an only child and a cartoonist and I rolled my eyes as she goes up to this 20-something bean pole in fatiques and a ski cap to ask him why he’s yelling “Raj!” Well, it turns out the guy’s a heroin junkie from Lubbock and Kathy wants him to get help, and he says he will but he needs money to get off the streets, but she doesn’t have any money so she asks me to give him a five and as I’m reaching in my pocket, another guy comes up and says, “What about me?” That was a $6 encounter. Kathy had another street encounter which resulted in a $50 hit (they took credit cards) but I’ll spare you the pain since it involves a certain candidate my partners hate with a passion.
We are getting very good comments from you on our new t-shirts designs. Please vote for your favorite ones by clicking right here and if you have more to say, email me and tell me. Thanks. And by the way, could you spare $12? I have a payroll to meet. God bless.
“The illustrator of books is an active fiend who clips with long, sharp shears the tender wings of illusion."
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