On last night's Intervention (the Emmy Award-winning reality series that follows drug addicts around with a camera, culminating in a usually heart-wrenching "gift" of rehab presented by the subject's family) two locals were featured on the show. Luke, one of the kids you see skateboarding by the Ferry Building, and his mother live on the streets due to the former's problem with crack-cocaine. He's a bright kid who wants to become a journalist (not a good profession for an addict, by the way) and loves to read (Hunter S. Thompson and Jack Kerouac, just to name two), but can't seem to stop using that which is whack. The whole ordeal is sad (yet entertaining) and a testament to the folks we see living on the streets each day.
You can watch the episode in its entirety here.
Of all the locations Luke visits while collecting money and scoring his poison (foraging for stuff in a trashcan outside Hotel Monaco, smoking on Polk, calling the stretch of Market Street between Second and First his favorite spot in the city), one place in particular resonates: the San Francisco public toilet. Around the 11:25 Mark, Luke goes into a public bathroom along
the Embarcadero 16th Street to buy drugs from a dealer inside using the place as an office. (The bathroom even has a guy stations by the door to welcome patrons in and watch for cops outside while transactions take place.)
Footing the bill for these public toilets? You. As Joe Eskenazi pointed out in a 2008 SF Weekly article, the toilets cost taxpayers $326,000 a pop, and that's not including maintenance. (But, as one SFist commenter pointed out, the public johns have little or no cost to the city, and are /financed through advertising on them.")
We don't know about you, but we never use city public toilets, even in the most dire of bladder and/or #2-related emergencies. (Hot tip: We typically dash inside the lobbies of either the St. Regis or Four Seasons for such unspeakable acts.) The public toilets are known for being used in this manner, so most people avoid them altogether.
How about you readers, do you ever use San Francisco's pricey public toilets? If so, good Lord, please please explain yourself.