1. Say “‘Frisco.”
No really, I dare you. Same with ‘San Fran’. If you’re saying ‘San Francisco’ often enough to need an abbreviation, just say ‘The City’- everyone will know which city you mean. And if you want a subtle way to tell if we’re from the area, just say ‘Frisco’ once and watch our reaction; see that look on our faces like the milk poured out lumpy? That means you’ve got yourself a bona fide local, but it’s already too late for you.
2. Wear Google Glass.
We don’t care that Google does call the Bay ‘home’, nor do we care “how cool you are that you got onto some kind of list to get one first,” we are not happy to see that thing on your face. Not only does it make you look like a massive tool, but we feel like it’s an invasion of our privacy (and will react accordingly). So if you decide to be a ‘glasshole,’ be prepared to be forcibly removed from our favorite establishments.
3. Try to turn left at that light.
Live in the City for a while, and you’ll come to recognize a certain kind of horn-honking that I’ve affectionately dubbed “Can’t Turn Left There”. Sure, driving in San Francisco is an exercise in white-knuckled terror, but for-the-love-of-all-that’s-holy look out for the No-Left-Turn arrow. If you don’t, we’ll go from zero to pissed in no time… because while you waited for a break in traffic that will never come, you’ve gridlocked lanes in two directions and made 200 people late for work. Congratulations, tourist.
4. Keep asking how we live with the rent.
San Francisco has a higher cost of living than any other U.S. city, and nobody knows this more intimately than we do. Whatever the reason we’ve chosen to live here, it is in spite of this… and you going on about it is like me continuously talking about how much it sucks that you’re hungover. Let’s all just try to forget the headache and move on.
5.Stop suddenly on the sidewalk.
Don’t. Do not. Avoid doing. Seriously. Locals with places to be are already delicately balancing trying to avoid scaffolding, steering clear of the angry drunk, stepping over poop, watching that large dog, sidestepping toddlers and dodging texters — the last thing we need is for you to freeze mid-step immediately in front of us to see if that really IS a coffee shop to your right and send us careening into the remnants of some rando’s drinking binge from last night.
6. Try to hail “any old taxi”.
Listen rookie, don’t shout in my ear as you flail out into traffic trying to hail a cab; taxis aren’t allowed (by law) pick you up just anywhere. For heaven’s sake, call the cab company, look up a taxi stand near you, or (if you don’t have a smartphone) go to a main street, and find a hotel — they’ll be the buildings with the long line of cabs ready, willing, and able to pick you up.
7. Ask us how to ride BART.
Hey, we’re happy to tell you which stations are safest at which times, or if BART even goes out to wherever you’re headed… but rather than asking us how to navigate the system, stop and take 5 minutes to look at the map. Because, frankly, BART is so easy a 4th grader could use it. And they do.
8. Talk about how “gay” everything is as if it’s funny.
San Francisco has a reputation for being a progressive and historically gay-friendly city, but that doesn’t mean everything here is “gay”. I took the bus, not “hee-hee, the gay bus”. And no, there aren’t gay-only shops, nor have I seen a single public same-sex orgy since I moved here (and to be honest, I really don’t know or care if that person behind the counter is gay). Yes, a lot of gay people came to the City in the 70’s and 80’s because it was one of the least dangerous places to be gay at the time — but when you throw “gay” around like a joke, you shit on decades of progress away from that complicated history of hate and violence.
9. Insist on driving an SUV.
Your car is TOO DAMN BIG I don’t care if you rented it for the weekend, borrowed it from your friend or, heaven help you, bought the damn thing– look around, do you see how crowded everything is here? Your vehicle DOESN’T FIT. And sure, I could go on about gasoline efficiency, the environment, or Big Oil, but the simple fact is they take up too much space in a City where even the bike racks are overflowing. Stop compensating and get a smaller car.
10. Tell us your simple solution for solving homelessness.
We get it — confronted with the ugly reality that over 10,000 homeless people live here, you think you’ve had a fresh and clever idea to “just fix it”. But if it were that easy, we’d have done it already. And here’s what you’re obviously missing: studies show that at least ⅔ of San Francisco’s homeless have employable skills, but property values have forced them onto the street. And once there, they face an unsympathetic public, mental hardship, and a city that criminalizes them. There is no “quick fix,” and you sound just like that insensitive douche who tells a depressed person they should “just choose to be happy.”
11. Ask us what to do or see while you’re here.
Tourists *always* do this, and it blows our minds. What am I supposed to say — it costs all my money to live here, so I can’t exactly afford the prices associated with the main tourist attractions? That you’d probably have better luck with 15 minutes and a quick Google, Tripadvisor, or Yelp search? Surely you don’t want my favorite restaurant, because that’s on 6th Street and you probably don’t want to be anywhere near 6th. Now, if you tell me you are super into cheap comics, Asian cultures, or X-rated fiction, yeah — maybe I have some insight. But if you tell me you’re into ‘food’ or ‘fun’ while spending ‘your long weekend in town,’ and you ‘dunno, San Francisco just seemed like a fun city to visit’ then I’ll send you to the Embarcadero for the overpriced snacks, ‘I heart SF’ tees, and view of the Golden Gate you’re obviously after.