Broke-Ass City: Love in the time of random street furniture 

click to enlarge If you’ve lived in San Francisco for a while, there is a strong chance you have a piece of someone else’s furniture inside your home — and no telling what has happened to it. - COURTESY SF PUBLIC WORKS
  • Courtesy SF Public Works
  • If you’ve lived in San Francisco for a while, there is a strong chance you have a piece of someone else’s furniture inside your home — and no telling what has happened to it.

When I came home one recent night, there was a tall white bookshelf sitting on the sidewalk outside my apartment. My previous roommate, who just moved out, owned it, but my new roommate didn’t want it, so out to the curb it went. The bookshelf was gone by the time I woke up the next morning.

That is one of my favorite things about San Francisco — the fact that if you’ve lived here for a while, you’re almost guaranteed to have a piece of someone else’s life sitting in your living room.

We’ve all collected random free things off the street. In my early 20s, my roommates and I found a fantastic papasan chair that we scored on the corner. Many a night, some drunk friend passed out in it and woke up the next day with a crick in their neck from sleeping weird.

A few years ago, when my buddy Josh got clean and was doing the apologies part of his sobriety program, he told me, “I need to apologize for peeing myself in your papasan. The worst part was that I didn’t tell anyone. I just turned it over and quietly left in the morning.”

I really hope my old apartment on 23rd Street no longer has that thing.

One of my favorite scores was a bright pea-green lamp. It was at least two feet tall and looked like it could’ve been a prop on “Mad Men,” except that it wasn’t a prop. It was a real deal lamp from the ’60s and even had a weird light bulb that was basically a circular tube about a foot in diameter. I was living with a girlfriend at the time and when we split up, she got the apartment and the lamp.

I loved that lamp, but I still wonder where on Earth she would find a replacement when that strange bulb finally gave out.

Despite all these fantastic street scores, there was a dark period where I resisted picking up any goodies I’d find. A few years ago, bed bugs came back with a vengeance and I’d see wonderful things that would go perfect with my “crazy old-guy hoarder” style of decorating, but I’d resist. Even if it was an amazing trunk that looked like it came from a pirate ship, it wasn’t worth getting bed bugs.

Is that even still a thing? Are we still worried about bed bugs?

These days I live in South of Market on Folsom Street, and while I’m not as worried about bed bugs as I once was, I’m still hesitant to pick up strange street furniture. The main reason is that I’m convinced that if it’s on the street in my neighborhood, somebody has probably pooped in it. That’s because somebody probably has.

There’s a lot of human poop in SoMa, and this is something that Mayor Ed Lee really needs to address. Not just because it’s ruining street furniture, but because, well, people are pooping in the street.

Now, it’s your turn. What are the best free street scores you’ve come across in your life? Find my Broke-Ass Stuart pages on Twitter and Facebook and let me know.

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at Broke-Ass City runs Thursdays in The San Francisco Examiner.

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