I walked into Wishbone the other day to make a quick purchase when I was engaged in a short exchange about the shirt the cashier was wearing. Centered on the front had the word "Local" in small simple font and above it an image of Sutro Tower (a landmark only someone in who lives in SF would recognize), declaring that the wearer was a San Francisco native. I told him I've lived here for nearly five years and then he said I should get a shirt that I'd qualify as a local. Now he may have been using a very clever method to get me make that purchase or he really thought the mere five years was sufficient enough to be classified a local. I didn't buy the shirt citing that I heard somewhere it was actually six. I lied.
I don't know who has the authority to make that call but it guess that power does lie with those born and raised in the City. Or maybe because San Francisco is such a transient city it doesn't matter how long you've been here. I suppose I could go to the DMV, get my address changed and whip that out each time. I know it took me a year maybe two before I really started using the MUNI system and probably three years to begin to understand how the streets are oriented, and five to still not know all the many neighborhoods. But I really didn't know my status until I called my sister.
She lives in Southern California, it was her birthday, and it was about five in the afternoon.
"Hey what's up? What are you doing?"
"Oh I'm with June and we're at the beach."
Now I'm a visually oriented guy so I need to create in my head an image of whatever is going on on the other side of the phone. So when she said that, I pictured Ocean beach with a slight gloom, cold, windy, the two of them bundled up sitting up on the concrete ledge, watching the foaming water come and go from a safe distance.
"What, you guys having good conversation, sitting in the cold?"
"No, we've been laying out all day."
I was taken a back. Completely shocked that I'd forgotten there actually exists beaches with sun and soft sand. My perspective was all San Francisco. Cold beaches, layers of clothing, close proximity was my reality and that's how I saw everything. I realized at that point my instincts were San Francisco. I then understood that was the factor that qualifies someone as a local.
Maybe I should've bought the shirt..