Tag Archives: Tenderloin

On the Engine

I’m currently a firefighter intern stationed at Engine 3 in downtown San Francisco. They are the busiest engine company in the entire country averaging over 10,000 calls per year. Our primary coverage area is a squalid 50 square block neighborhood called the Tenderloin; the largest drug ghetto in the United States. Crack. Feces. Meth. Vomit. Needles. Stabbings. Blood. Shootings. Alcoholics. Urine. Bodies. Glass. Noise. Mayhem. As much as you can handle.

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We never get a call to rescue a group of swollen titty’d sorority chicks stuck in an elevator. No way. We only get patients whose sex is a mystery until you cut off their piss-soaked pants with trauma shears. Patients rotting from the inside out from a lifetime’s worth of drugs, booze and stupidity. They stand on the corner all day shooting up and assaulting each other, and when one of them drops, we get the call.

Monday morning we ran 17 calls before lunch. Most departments are considered busy if they run that many in a week. I had chugged a Monster Energy drink before we pulled out of the engine bay on our first run. 5 back-to-back calls later – I had that nagging pain in the abdomen, where if I knelt down too quickly I’d leak a little. My angry bladder eventually found relief – lesson learned. The medic I work along side tells me to never kneel down beside a patient as I had done earlier, “around here you’ll end up with a syringe in your kneecap”. Two lessons learned.

The day progresses: I’m crawling into the back of a smashed up sedan to stabilize a driver’s neck, Naloxone vaporized into the nostrils to revive a heroin overdose, pouring water into the eyes of a pepper-sprayed, spitting tranny. Alcohol poisoning, chest pains, pediatric seizure, sliced fingers, allergic reaction… never a dull moment.

Some apartments we’re called to, you literally have to shovel your way through garbage just to get to them. Yesterday this old codger fell in his apartment and had been laying there for almost 2 days, he owned a huge tropical parrot caged in the corner. During the fall, his dentures must have flown out of his mouth and into an adjacent flower pot filled of dead stems and dirt… or that’s where he keeps them. the crew doesn’t miss a beat.  Get a set of vitals, put him on a stretcher, feed the bird, away we go.

Another call was a DOA (dead on arrival) – that is to say, if we had arrived 4 days ago. He had started to decompose around his face, blood pooling in the extremities, the apartment was rank with biology; his patient little dog sat confused by his side while we hooked up EKG leads. The TV still on, broadcasting the Olympics. We notify the coroner, call PD, call animal control, on to the next. Unfortunately, these eerie scenes will probably replace fond memories of being on a beautiful beach in Ko Chang with my lady or something. The brain is just like the bladder, it can only hold in so much before it causes pain. You’ve gotta find a release or go crazy. Writing is like kneeling down – leaking a little.


Crouching Tranny, Hidden Butter

I didn’t get much sleep last night. I woke up at 2 am to the repetitive chant of some hoarse tranny hooker encouraging her pimp to “Get him Daddy! Get him Daddy!” 

Over and over and over until I finally got up. STFU Tranny! Thrashing out of my sheets, I jumped out of bed to see what the fuss was about and lo and behold, it was some pimp swinging a pipe toward some other pimp. Standard Saturday night recreation. In these instances I usually keep a half stick of unsalted Land-o-Lakes butter on hand to throw down on the street creatures that keep me up, but alas, I used the last of it on some lemon pepper salmon for dinner – it was delicious.

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Butter is my preferred weapon when dealing with loud hookers and street noise. The last time I tried to use a water balloon the fucking thing exploded against the window frame and completely soaked me – standing there shirtless in wet boxers – not my proudest moment. So from now on it’s strictly butter. Even if frozen, it won’t crack any skulls like sweet potatoes, and if I can get it to smack down within a few feet of them they usually scatter like roaches.

The 9th Floor

Since moving into my 9th floor studio apartment almost three years ago I’ve had a front row seat to the infamous putrid Tenderloin circus that roils below. A hodgepodge of crippled cavemen, deformed hookers, and drug-addled human trash that shuffle up and down the soiled sidewalks every day looking for pills or a cozy place to puke; scraping the cement cracks for cigarette butts or anything combustible enough to throw in a pipe. You know when you leave a dog to it’s own devices in the backyard for an afternoon it will inevitably manage to roll around in it’s own shit? Well that’s like the people in my neighborhood… but let’s not be silly, even dogs clean themselves, a trivial concept for a community of drug addicts all suffering from methadone-relaxed anuses.

The 9th floor. San Francisco 2014

This degree of squalor and human sludge wouldn’t fly in a war torn suburb of Yemen let alone in any community in America. However, San Francisco is the most liberal city in the USA and this somehow translates to a tolerance and understanding of a crack smoker’s right to urinate and explode his bowels over every square-inch of my neighborhood while the police sit in their cruisers hypnotized by the glow of their iphones, trading seeds on Farmville.

In the span of three years I have witnessed multiple assaults, 4 large apartment fires, countless shouting matches, 1 shooting, a store owner throwing fruit at a dealer on the corner, some drunk slapping his old lady around, CPR being performed on a junkie, and every night the trash is put out on the curb the troglodytes empty it looking for something to salvage… and there I am in the nosebleed section, 9 floors up, watching it all unfold night after night – usually after 2am because meth heads tend to get a late start on their day.

The building I live in is an old renovated 1930’s high-rise. The windows are still the original ones from 80 years prior, they swing wide open and if one were so inclined could fit a television or medium sized teenager through the large opening they provide – no screens, no stops; they certainly wouldn’t prevent anyone from throwing butter, stale tortillas or avocado pits out of them in order to fight some street crime. Around midnight, as the drunken Neanderthals climb out of their burrows, I’m up in my Texas School Book Depository gathering fuzzy strawberries and mold stricken boiler potatoes armed and ready to inflict swift justice on the approaching motorcade of tweekers.

So far I’m proud to say that I’ve broken up 2 fights with butter and mandarins. And hopefully word will  spread throughout the Homo-Erectus community not to venture down my block after dark.

Lease renewal

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From:  ****@jenscorp.com
To: *****@ollieox.net
Date:  Sat, Nov 17, 2012 at 6:14PM
Subject: Lease renewal

Hi Jack,

I have not received a signed copy of your rental renewal agreement. I will need that form back as soon as possible or I need to know if you will be vacating the apartment in December.




From:  *****@ollieox.net
To: ****@jenscorp.com
Date:  Sat, Nov 17, 2012 at 6:20PM
Subject: RE: Lease renewal


I’m still trying to decide. I’ve grown quite accustomed to the bedbugs or whatever keeps eating me alive in the middle of the night here in your dilapidated shelter. I guess we’ll never know since you won’t send in a professional to look into the problem like I had asked over 3 months ago. Then again, I haven’t had companionship in almost a year now. It’s nice to have another living being put it’s mouth on me at night.

Sorry for the delay,


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My Neighbors

Holy Christ! Every night at 11pm they turn on the Daily Show and start cackling at the TV like some piss-soaked pigs. I swear all they do is consume energy drinks and talk to each other through those cheerleader cone megaphone things. They carry on like drunk teenagers yet they’re old enough to be my parents.


Well past their mid-forties – the guy can’t even fit in the elevator; some clumsy, corn-fed 7-foot hooligan from Britain with the teeth to prove it. His wife is no prize either. She definitely chain smokes and tests cheap hair products on herself for a living. Based on the array of curious noises that charge through the walls on a nightly basis, I can only assume their apartment looks like a tornado tore through it.