One autumn day I brought my children to work with me in the Tenderloin. We took the 38R down O'Farrell and jumped off between Jones and Taylor. Their elementary school eyes gathered scenes common downtown: A lanky doorman hailing a Prius taxi cab, sneakered hipsters wearing Beats by Dre swaying down the street, a hose power spraying the sidewalk in front of a convenience store. The kids were out of school and going to work with Papi in the city.
We walked into the clinic where they drew pictures while I saw patients. At lunchtime we walked down Ellis to get Banh Mi for lunch and passed a young bespectacled man sitting "criss-cross apple sauce" against a concrete building, his arm tied off sliding a needle into his vein. He didn't look up. My kids stopped until I pulled them along.
"Papi, is that guy sick?" my son asked.
"He is," I replied, "and so are we for allowing this to happen on our streets."
The opioid epidemic and overdose statistics continue to startle our country. Open drug use is a common sight in San Francisco. But in the Tenderloin, home to the city's densest population of children, the site of someone injecting into his arm, foot or neck vein, is traumatizing, especially children.