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Next stop: Employment

March 24, 2010

Because new, exciting restaurants and bars are usually the organic product of burgeoning streets and neighborhoods, food and drink tend to be the driving forces behind my exploring surroundings. But what happens when I can no longer afford to go out? How can I continue to discover San Francisco?

Existing in the shadow of nearly 3 months of unemployment and living the stern effects of joblessness on my brooding ego, I made moves in the last 2 weeks to find a job. And thanks largely to a helpful dose of the music of Rocky, I was revitalized. I got back on the (MUNI & BART) horse, pounded pavement, and found myself exploring the city by a much different avenue: the search for employment.

I love public transportation. Not only do I use it daily, I even started a blog to write more about it. This last month I utilized it to explore San Francisco–from SOMA to North Beach, from trains to restored streetcars, from terminals to bus stops–one interview at a time. The result is a unique vision of the city that recognizes the concurrence of services and substance; in planning terms, the nexus of mobility and accessibility. Tersely, public transit is a great way to get to know a city.

Enough gab–here are some distinct places I found while searching for a job:

First stop: SOMA. One of the interviews this month required my best professional attire. The problem? I lack professional attire. A tumultuous week of mounting my courier service (mom, brother Jason, and Eva) to clean and deliver my clothing from Los Angeles largely backfired and I needed to pick up a suit in a flash. After wasting a Saturday morning with an apathetic Macy’s Men’s Store staff, I hoofed it into SOMA to Harry O Menswear at 124 2nd Street (b/t Mission and Minna). All the beautiful sights and and great eats aside, if I were to take one experience away from my time in San Francisco, it would be the two hours Harry O spent helping me get a suit. He offers clients cappuccino, a great collection of (Italian) suits and clothing, and personifies customer service–he hooked me up and made my interview possible. It bears repeating: I look damn good in my suit and Harry O saved my life. Of the litany of amazing people I have met in my life, he is definitely up there. Pimpin’, dawg, pimpin’.

Please hold on: Tenderloin. I hate getting my hair cut because someone usually botches it. It’s probably my fault–I’ve tried everything from explicit instructions to telling stylists to go nuts–and the result tends to be sub-par. Arthur at Public Barber Salon (571 Geary b/t Shannon and Jones) knew exactly how to take care of my curly mop without much explanation. We chopped it up and, before I knew it, he was done–and I looked good. The narrow space had some funky-cool art and betta fishes swam in suspended fishbowls. Good energy and better prices.

Next stop: Jackson Square. This neighborhood is littered with fun, little drinking spots–like neighbors Bocadillos and The Bubble Lounge–but I found William Stout Architectural Books to be the standout establishment. A tucked away space at 807 Montgomery (b/t Jackson and Gold) belies the bevy of incredible picture books that range in topics from architecture and design to urban landscapes and fine art. And for the 15 minutes before an interview, I was in heaven.

End of the line: North Beach. While doing some recon on a would-be employer’s office, I took a walk through the amazing alleyways of North Beach, checking out huge staircases leading into Russian Hill and exploring the bay-breeze filled streets along the Embarcadero. Re-purposed pier edifices down to the Ferry Building now house circuses, limo companies, and restaurants. Resting on the bay (at Pier 17 b/t Green and Union) and watching the charmingly restored streetcars ring by was the headquarters of TCHO, a manufacturer of chocolates who is redefining the way chocolate gets made and sold from plant to package. Everything from TCHO‘s unique brand and factory speak to its fusion of technology and chocolate. They are self-described as the crossroads of “Silicon Valley start-up” and “San Francisco food culture” and you can check out the recycled and refurbished legacy chocolate making equipment on a tour of the facility.

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