Meet Jackie . . .
. . . my new friend.
Yesterday, a pleasant afternoon here in San Francisco, I took to the streets of the Tenderloin where I had the pleasure of meeting Jackie. Jackie was sitting on the footpath, leaning up against a wall, a zimmer frame by her side. Something about the space suggested a certain degree of ease about her, as though the street were her front porch on which she sat in an old, comfy rocker watching the people in the neighbourhood pass by.
She looked up at me, smiled and offered me a deal. “Give me a dollar and you can take my photo, give me five and I can go and eat.”
Cameras in the Tenderloin are a tricky business. It is a colourful part of town, the streets on their own are a kaleidoscopic, wonderful mess of so many faded details and it is these streets which are home to a large part of San Francisco’s growing, and aging, homeless population.
I gave Jackie two dollars, telling her to get something to eat but not to worry about the photos – she looked crushed, “but I want my photo taken.” I took some shots, not the best, and I was the one feeling self-conscious in doing so, and as I did, we talked.
Jackie has her photo taken all the time, she told me. After all, her name is Jackie. Kennedy. And John is still very much alive although she did holiday over the summer on a yacht with a fabulously wealthy man. John doesn’t seem to mind. I asked her where she was from – “Boston, Massachusetts, of course. Where do you think I met John?” She ran her fingers through her hair. She might have been Jackie Kennedy but I am no Richard Avedon and this was no big fashion shoot. However, the sun was shining and we were having fun. This Jackie was fun.
I asked Jackie what she was going to buy to eat. She beamed up at me, “COKE, it’s the best!”
Jackie, nothing if not an honest entrepreneur, making the best of it.
The words on the above photo tell you everything you need to know about the Tenderloin. It only takes a click.
America might run on Dunkin’ but, for Jackie, things go better with Coke.
Jackie, you made my day better.