CTEL Purgatory (Also: The Homeless as Performance Art)

Posted on June 17, 2009Filed Under CTEL, Homeless, Me, San Francisco | Leave a Comment

“It’s summertime, and the livin’s easy…” It seems like forever since I’ve had the time and the inclination to post. Nine days! It must be summer. Up until Saturday at 2:00 pm, it was all about CTEL. I finished the kids’ research papers early this year, and actually had time to (mostly) read the book that they say is the best prep for the test. The kids’ last day was Thursday, and I skipped the work day Friday, and left for San Francisco. I had to report for the test at 8 am Saturday. Now remember, the 450+ miles (round trip) I had to drive is more than I drive in  a year. Really. Maybe two. Unless we go to Vegas or something. So not only am I constantly thinking about the test(s – there were three “modules”), now I have to deal with driving too? So I made sure I got there early so I could find the zone.

missionhs

Mission High School (1st building dedicated 1897)

The test was in the Mission District at Mission High School. After I checked in at the Holiday Inn ($29 for parking!), I cruised the route to the school to make sure my Google directions were accurate.  (They were money. I was about 5 minutes away.)  I love old high schools like this one. I know about all the maintenance infrastructure issues associated with old buildings, but the tile floors and groovy architecture… it’s just so Room 222. Anyway, after I scoped it out, and found a suitable parking space — I love how San Francisco does not worship the automobile as the center of society; it’s a pain in the butt to have a car in the city — I went for a skate. I have never seen so many homeless people in my life. That park in the foreground of the pic? Blankies and tarps and tents and piles of “possessions.” And kids playing Frisbee and people chatting on cellphones and a fraternity having an event. Oh and a yard sale and barbeque. On the sidewalk. Where I come from, people complain about the homeless, and while we have far fewer actual homeless people on the streets and in the parks than SF, at home (population 45,000 + 15,000 more when the university is in session) I get asked for money almost every time I walk downtown. In SF? Not once. I didn’t see anyone get panhandled or harrassed. In fact, the homeless were more like some sort of urban performance art. Part of the scenery. An errant Frisbee hits one guy napping amidst his shopping and sleeping bags. He doesn’t react. The thrower runs over and picks up the Frisbee, dodging shopping bag guy’s companion like he’s a rock or a bush. Outside my hotel there was a trio, with maybe seven teeth between them, arguing about who spilled the grape soda they were using to mix with their vodka. The next morning at 6, they were still arguing about it; the can was still on its side with a purple stain on the sidewalk. Back home they would’ve hounded me for money to replace it, and one of them would have thrown the can at me for refusing. Friday night, I holed up in the hotel room, and read the book some more. More tomorrow…(I don’t get results until July 23. Purgatory indeed.)

Comments

Leave a Reply