Money exchanges hands, interesting characters roam, and the block is busy on a Sunday evening. Stand on Market and Turk, facing the Westfield mall, and it’s easy to tell by the thinning crowd at Market and 5th where the TL begins.
Beautiful in its own way, the TL exists amongst boarded up buildings and un-kept parking lots as the smell of car exhaust, urine, vomit, and smoke occasionally harass unsuspecting nostrils.
Although homelessness, crippling poverty, and illegal activity plague the TL, there is a sense of community that gives it a life unique to other San Francisco neighborhoods. The people speak.
“Hay sistah, how you doing?”
“Girl, I just love your hair!”
“You are looking very good today lady.”
“How are you?”
Amongst the sense of eeriness brought to the TL by its reputation of crime, there is welcoming warmth found in the voices of the young and old men, older women, old prostitutes, the drug hazed, and the homeless.
Mr. Jackson’s shoe shinning business, located next to Farmerbrown on Mason between Turk and Market, became the introduction to the neighborhood. As Jackson closed up shop, a friend of his explained the ins-and-outs of the TL.
“Go home and put on some jeans,” instructed long time Tenderloin resident, Buchard. “You look out of place with what you got on.”
Dressed in a pair of black leggings, a loose fitting pink top, a gray jacket, and some brown boots, I jotted down his suggestions.
Armed with this advice, I continued walking and met a gentleman. This man insisted on escorting me through the TL and buying me lunch until he had to be at work.
I learned about the booty-shorts wearing woman that calls herself Janet Jackson and the wondering wild-haired homeless man that committed murder, but was now free to roam the streets because of his mental disability.
The man and I parted ways and I decided to end my visit to the TL. Although I found that the people are reluctant in giving their information, they still love to talk and know who is coming through their neighborhood. I like that about this part of San Francisco.