Mon 18 Jun 2007 7:08 PM
The first job I ever had was washing dishes at the local pizza place, something I landed after
stopping by several times a week and pestering the lanky, awkward looking manager. Through highschool I worked a couple days a week, weekends and after school, and eventually started working on the floor and finally as a prep cook. It was a small place with a limited menu but a considerably loyal following. We didn’t do delivery service when I first started
working there. You could say that’s because it was too small but really it was because a good portion of the neighborhood is made up of projects and when you deliver in San Francisco you’re not legally allowed to discriminate about where you’ll go. However, loopholes are everywhere and it was found that limited deliveries for big orders could be done without offending the law. Flyers were made and distributed to businesses in the immediate area. Once in a while I ended up having to ride with the lanky, awkward manager in the company pick-up to deliver the goods. I always insisted that I got to bring tapes along and smoke out the window so even tho it was a chore that prolonged my shifts (because I couldn’t chop onions in the truck) I was happy enough doing it.
We made a stop once at a new office building on the outskirts of the neighborhood where the Hill and the Mission converged in a collection of warehouses and the skeletons of what would become loft developments. An abandoned brewery (Hamms, I wanna say, but Schlitz might be right) had recently been purchased and converted and in the belly lay the most fashionable lobby I’d ever seen. Designer chairs and exotic plants, track lighting and neo-industrial touches. I have no idea what this company did but it was due to the internet. This was early on when AOL was just eclipsing Prodigy and funny little businesses had just begun to crop up here and there. Wired was just a small office on 2nd Street and Multimedia Gulch still caught most of the buzz. It didn’t really make sense to me at the time, that an office would have a lobby more appropriate for a Hollywood hotel, but then suddenly what didn’t make sense became what it was all about. Kozmo? Are you serious? Yes, they were, and they opened up shop on this coast as well. Little drop boxes appeared in coffee shops all around town. I landed a mediocre position at another brilliant outpost of consumerism in the South of Market and listened to the
staff talk excitedly about the latest launches. I stood in absolute awe once on Townsend watching a huge crane slowly lower cars through the roof of a five or six story warehouse. That company, if I remember correctly, amassed a fleet of PT Cruisers to make deliveries in. No passengers, just courier service. Of course reality came back from vacation and they laid off all the writers, half the production staff and finally me. I’d built the office (Ikea furniture, natch) up from the pre-live days to the peak, then broke it all down again after the company went through a merger. Kozmo ate shit, the PT Cruisers disappeared and while no one got the big slap in the face they deserved you could tell the pot was at least simmering down. But, like old scars, the lofts remain and the neighborhoods have undergone changes that can never be restored. San Francisco came out of it a richer and whiter town then ever before, as though the whole dot.com bubble was a civic debutante’s ball. A popular theme in sci/fi and fantasy is the fabric of reality– you stretch it too thin and things from the other side break through. The fabric in SF was always closer
to cheese-cloth than wool, it didn’t take much for the moths to shred it entirely. Whenever I go to see my parents I walk down 14th an cut behind Best Buy. For months there was a warehouse behind Rainbow being worked on which I stopped paying attention to until, one evening headed home, I noticed that there were two spotlights out on the corner announcing the grand opening of whatever chic restaurant had been installed. I always walk home down Division and this atrocity was not enough to tempt my investigation.
I was wrong, it’s not a restaurant. The next time I went to my parents I noticed that a very small, one car drive-up built into the building. There was a security guard. There were two people checking into the hotel, a one-story former warehouse hotel. For real. I thought it was odd and I didn’t understand why it was called the Wag Hotel until I continued on past the huge display windows occupying the rest of the building. It’s the Wag Hotel gift shop. There’s huge pictures of dogs and cats sitting on chairs and surfing or whatever. There’s expensive imported food. There’s expensive toys. There’s expensive dishes. There was a cute girl closing up the register with a dumb, dyed punk-rock haircut but I couldn’t be bothered to focus. So next time you leave town you can leave your animal companion in style. Three different rates based on size give a small private room, two daily meals, classical music and playgroup time. There’s also suites for a little more room or for two animals, luxury suites which come with furniture, paintings and plasma screen TVs and, of course, the Cattery where felines lounge in condos watching the aquarium all day. There’s also daily services for locals like bringing your dog to go swimming or get walked and premium services for guests like, eh, massages… Go-go-economy!