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Memorize these resolutions for visitors to SF

by Joel Pomerantz

June 15th, 2010

People come to San Francisco for conventions and vacations, but have more fun if they know someone here. That’s because their host will probably force them to repeat these secret oaths:

1) I will only go to tourist trap Fisherman’s Wharf to see a specific cool thing, such as the Musée Mechanique. I will only go to tourist nightmare Pier 39 to see the wild sea lions. I will not spend all my time in tourist zones. Hardly any, really. Maybe six minutes. And only with these rules…

2) After I find out that I really do need scarf, long johns and sweater when the summer fog blows through San Francisco, I will not blame my hosts, who tried to warn me. I will instead, without a whimper, go to Community Thrift, Thrift Town, Goodwill, or some other esteemed reused clothing store* and remedy the lack.

*not $6 sweatshop-produced tourist sweatshirt shops. Remember: reduce, reuse, recycle, rot—the four Rs to relieve the consumerist nightmare!

3) I will not expect to find hippies on Haight Street. (What is a hippie, anyway?) Maybe in Golden Gate Park if it’s sunny, though.

4) I will not rely on the “west-compressed” free tourist map. As a public service, I’ll denounce dopey maps when I’m offered one. (What’s the point of a map purposely published not to scale? Beware the telltale red line between downtown and the Pacific Ocean. And the unmarked compression zone at the bottom of the map.)

5) I will consider biking instead of walking on the noisy Golden Gate Bridge. I will wear layers on and in my ears to minimize wind exposure and hearing loss.

6) When I feel tempted to take a ferry ride, I’ll go to Angel Island. If I must go to Alcatraz, I’ll buy the tickets from the ferry service not a rip-off tour service. Buy early.

7) I will patronize local establishments. Chains I recognize from home won’t add anything to my experience of this strange and wonderful city.

8) I won’t drive a car unless absolutely necessary. Instead, I’ll use the excellent public transit. Buses are good people-watching opportunities (except maybe at rush hour). I’ll use 511 to get bus arrival info. (Say “Departure times” when it starts, then punch in the Stop ID from the pole or just say “I don’t know it.”) If I do drive, I’ll yield to all pedestrians and bicycles.

9) I will talk to strangers. And celebrate weirdness.

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