I was on my way back from a meeting early this morning downtown when I wandered by the Apple Store. It was mostly a typical scene at 7am in downtown San Francisco. Streets were being cleaning. Vendors were opening up for the day. A handful of homeless people were beginning to wander around.
I walked by the store and saw a tent. I though – oh, a homeless person camped in the middle of the sidewalk. That's odd. (There are a lot of homeless people in SF, but they typically don't camp in the middle of the sidewalk at busy intersections.) Then it dawned on me, "oh …. That person is ‘the line.'" I went to my meeting for a couple of hours and then wandered back by.
Turns out I "knew" the line – was Dale Larson. I stopped to chat. I had a lot of questions – was it safe? Where did he use the bathroom? How did he fetch food without losing his place in line? (I last slept on the street about 14 years ago because I made a last minute decision to go to the San Fermin in Pamplona and didn't have a hotel room, but wanted a great spot for watching the bulls. Felt out of practice.) Dale was dressed in a sports coat and tie none-the-less. Said the folks in the Apple store let him use their bathroom. He wears earplugs at night. Street corner is busy enough that he feels safe. One of the most interesting things is, people bring him food and stop to chat. While I was there, two women stopped by – "Number 23" and "Number 24" from the original iPhone launch in 2007. They were old friends. Dale was only #3 last year.