Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Walk Through the Tenderloin District

              When I was still in L.A., somebody by the stage door warned me not to go to the Tenderloin District in San Francisco.  Well, just the name intrigued me...The story behind it is that a long time ago, when the crime was rampant in that part of the city, the criminals would bribe the cops and ward off any arrests with meat, of all things!  I don't know what kind of carnivorous beasts these cops were, but apparently if you just threw some meat their way, then you could continue whatever heinous crime your were involved in (I threw in the word heinous for all you Law and Order: SVU fans out there--hope you liked it).

            I don't know how much meat is used in bribes anymore, but there are still some seemingly unsavory characters there.  And I found myself there today. Alone.  See, I am not good at geography and terrible with directions.  Honestly, if you can't tell me how to get somewhere in one sentence, maybe two if their short ones, then I really don't want to hear it.  I say this because I didn't bother to find out exactly where the Tenderloin District is in this city.  I don't know if I thought that a huge pork chop would warn me of its approach, or something, but anyway, I just figured I just wouldn't run into it.  But, enter today--when I decided to search for a place to play a piano between my shows.  

          Me, John, and Kevin had gone to the gym and afterward, I decided to go back to Glide--the church I had volunteered at yesterday--and see if I could play their piano.  I set off on my walk in what I hoped was the right direction, and noticed that the scenery gradually got more run down the further I went.  I wasn't really scared, but I was becoming hyper-aware with each new homeless and seemingly deranged person who showed up on the scene.  At one point, I looked up and saw a homemade sign that said, God loves the Tenderloin District, which was a clue that I was right smack in the middle of it.  Another clue was that I found myself surrounded by the under-privileged, homeless, mentally unstable, and poor.  

    At one point, I thought of crossing the street, because I was coming up on a huge amount of them all gathered together, but I decided I didn't want to be rude and that I would be just fine. 
However, it did feel like maybe an asylum had just decided to have their recess out on the street; I mean, I had never been around this many unwell people in one place before.   And this was when they started talking to me.  Come here, pretty baby...And, Do you have just a minute for me? and Lord, have mercy! was yelled in my direction as I walked by.  I was doing my own version of Yes, please Lord--have mercy! as I picked up my step just a little.  And in the middle of all this, I saw a welcome sign on an awning that read, Youth With A Mission, San Francisco.  It was just a storefront window, nothing too pretty, but to me, it was a bright and startling light in a dark room.  

   I walked right up to it, but it was locked.  However, now I know where it is--so I want to try to go back.  I have had so many good experiences with YWAM, that I feel like I know them already--or at least, like I know their heart.  And what better place for them to be, then right in the heart of the Tenderloin District?  It encouraged me just seeing their sign and knowing that they were there.  I did find Glide again--but no dice with the piano.  The lady was firm when she said I would be a distraction to the offices that were there.  Oh well.  My plan B was to go to Guitar Center and play one of their electric pianos, which I did.  The downside was that I think I ended up walking at least five miles or more and so my feet really hurt for the second show tonight.  But, there are worse things, I think.  

   So, I went right to where I was warned not to go.  But, I was fine--and I want to go back--both for Glide and YWAM.  And I am kind of disappointed that I didn't see one piece of meat while I was there.  Maybe next time.   


pop said...

well, I'm certainly glad you didn't "meat" with any misfortune...


jason said...

you were probably all dolled up from your show with make up, huh? hmmm.... maybe people DID think you looked like you belonged there?


Lady Leth said...

Oh my gosh! That is hilarious!!

Jessica Latshaw said...

Yeah, except--do a lot of hookers wear black sweatshirts zipped up to their chins, jeans, and high tops?