A British expat shares what she’s learned after living in San Francisco six months

Writer and editor Olivia Solon describes nicknames for the city – “San Fran” is universally despised, while “Frisco” is controversial – notes that she’s had to start using checks again, and coffee is taken very, very seriously.

6. All bars have TVs

It doesn’t matter whether you are in a sports bar (where it makes sense), a hipster dive bar or a swanky cocktail bar, they all have one thing in common: television screens in every corner. Not even Top of the Mark, a high-end martini bar on the 19th floor of the Mark Hopkins hotel known for its “spectacular breathtaking views of the San Francisco skyline, Bay and Golden Gate Bridge” escapes the telly box’s vice-like grip.

These screens act like conversational black holes, overwhelming all other chat forces until the only thing you can talk about is the One Second Slicer informercial. “Why yes, I am tired of slicing and dicing by hand and bulky slicers that clutter my countertop.”

Regarding nicknames: Around 1989-90, when I started covering tech, “Baghdad by the Bay” was a nickname for San Francisco. That fell out of favor for obvious reasons.

When I’m in the Bay Area, I’ll occasionally visit a fancy-schmancy boutique coffee place, but I’m partial to Starbucks and Peets. I just want a cuppa joe.

TVs in public places are horrible.

8 things I’ve learned since moving to San Francisco [Olivia Solon – Medium]

Homeless encounter

When I take Minnie on our hour-long afternoon walk, I go down Colorado Ave. to where it ends in a cul-de-sac and a chainlink fence with a sewage treatment plant beyond. To my right is a little wooded area, with a footpath leading down to the commercial street, Lake Murray Blvd. The footpath follows along the chainlink fence.

I saw a homeless man lying on the ground while walking Minnie at about 5 pm yesterday. He was lying asleep on a piece of cardboard.

I called La Mesa PD from my cell phone and they said they’d send someone. I believe them, but I still saw the man there when I returned with Minnie an hour later.

This afternoon about 4 pm: Same man, same place, this time blocking the whole path. Again, I called La Mesa PD, and they said they’d send someone. When I returned with Minnie an hour later, I saw the man walking up Lake Murray Blvd. Sure enough, he turned up the footpath and he was lying on the ground, same spot, when I passed by. I told him, “Hey, buddy, you can’t sleep here,” and he said he’d go somewhere else.

Next time I go walking, I’m bringing a printout of directions to St. Vincent de Paul and I’ll give him $10 for Trolley fare. I’m sympathetic to the plight of the homeless but he can’t sleep rough here.

Sometimes in the winter I find myself walking in the park after dusk. I see couples and individuals walking into the park, dressed in layers and carrying big bundles. I assume they’re homeless. That doesn’t bother me — I mean, it bothers me that they’re homeless and have to sleep rough, but I’m not concerned that our park is where they do it. They have to sleep somewhere. But not in our neighborhood.