Thursday, August 31, 2006

Is It or Isn't It a Hotel?

Every morning on the way to work, I pass through a seedy part of the city called the Tenderloin. (It is said to have gotten its name from a time when cops were paid more to patrol its mean streets, affording them more lucre to buy better cuts of meat.) I believe I could take a route around it, but I feel that crossing through the area reminds me of my place in the community -- how fortunate I have been, and my responsibility not to forget those who are way down on their luck. Basically, just to remember there's another world out there that's not mine. Different viewpoints, different needs, different lives that make up this town, whether or not I like it.

It's home to trashy sidewalks with what looks like blankets strewn in doorways in the morning, but which are really homeless people sleeping; a black man who lost his legs who gets around on a skateboard; lost-looking people crossing against the light wearing slippers and sunken faces; cheap hookers; porn shops; drug dealers; and liquor stores.

More often than not, I drive by an ambulance or firetruck responding to a drunk or drugged-out person down. And residential hotels know as SROs -- or single room occupancy -- for which the downtrodden pay too much of the little they have to stay in a room usually infested with bed bugs, roaches and rodents.

Wow, I'm bringing you down, aren't I? Don't worry. They survive. And they are often laughing and calling to friends and smiling. It's not my kind of life, but it's a life.

Anyway, the only reason I mention it is that I get a kick out of this building I pass. It has "Herald Hotel" or "Hotel Herald" written all over it, and then, stenciled in the window, it says, "This is not a hotel. No vacancy."

It cracks me the hell up. What is it, then?

1 comment:

Beebers said...

i am so going to drive by and look at this place!

and i'll admit that i usually drive home from mission and turn up 7th street to go straight through the loin, then hit pine and cut west. it's a definite reminder after a long day that while it may be bad, it could be MUCH worse!