Riding the San Francisco streetcar / by Nigel Rumsey

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This guy was in quite a bad way. He'd lost more than the skin off of one of his knees at some point and was wearing the sort of ground in dirt you don't get in a few days - he'd been sleeping rough, as we euphemistically call sleeping on the cold, unforgiving ground, for some time. Coming from London I suppose I've got used to seeing people sleeping rough on the streets, maybe I don't always notice them. To a degree they've become part of the fabric of the city. I was far from prepared, however, for the sheer number of those inhabiting every public space in San Francisco.

Coming from London I suppose I've got used to seeing people sleeping rough on the streets, maybe I don't always notice them.

Our friend here was in better health than many, he was drinking, yes, but he was lucid, he was aware of what was happening around him. So many seemed to occupy a world of their own. In some way with us and yet somewhere else at the same time. I'm sure drugs have a lot to do with it. But it seems far too easy to dismiss it as something they brought on themselves.

I had to remind myself I was on vacation in one of the wealthiest cities, in the wealthiest country in the world. This is California in the United States of America. The home of the dot com billionaire, California alone has the world's eighth-largest economy.

Surely it can do more to help him and the hundreds like him.