May 29, 2009

San Francisco scams

Okay, so I really like Frisco (I don’t care what it means that I say “Frisco” instead of “San Franshutthefup” . . . Frisco is shorter) and have visited a few times and it’s always been fun.  But on this short trip (for Google I/O, more about that later) my time is the city sucked.

I don’t know if it’s the economy or what but for every block that you walk you’ll have *at least* two people ask you for money.  That’s annoying in itself but usually I usually feel kind of bad for them in that they have to ask.  But it’s no exaggeration that on the 5 block walk from my hotel to the conference center there must have been 10 people asking for money . . . each way!  After a while it’s just plain annoying and I don’t feel bad for anyone and I just want them to go away and I start thinking about ways the city should try to fix this problem.

But it gets worse!  I’m at the BART station trying to get a ticket to get on the train.  I have my wallet out pulling out a $5 to put in the machine and a guy walks up and has a BART ticket and a few dollars in his hand all spread out perfectly and says something like “I only need 75 cents so I can get home” and I look up and say “okay” and hand him a dollar.  Before I can even finish getting my $5 in the machine another person walks up to the people next to me and says the same thing.  I look over and at that point I didn’t know what was going on and the people there didn’t give him anything.  Then I finish my transaction and turn around and the same guy that asked me for 75 cents is consulting with the new guy and is looking at me as if to say “No, you get the money from that chump over there”.  I just look at the guy blankly in disbelief and he says “Seriously, thank you”.

It gets worse.

The BART incident happened on my way home . . . the night before I’m walking up California street . . . a street that’s not at all crowded like Market Street but isn’t exactly deserted . . . and I’m stopped by a frazzled (but not homeless looking) woman who looked like she was lost:

Frazzled: Are you from the city?

Me: You mean from here? No, I’m just visiting.

Frazzled: Oh okay, well, can I ask you a question anyway?

Me: Sure, maybe I can look it up on my phone.

Frazzled: Oh, um well, I ran out of gas and my car is over there I can pay you back just give me your information . . .

Me: How much do you need?

Frazzled: Twenty dollars but I already have five.

Me: <pulls out wallet and hands her a $20>

Frazzled: Thank you so much!

In hindsight, I think that transaction was a scam.  I’m not sure I like Frisco as much anymore.