Chillin’ in the Traffic

The organization that I am interning at, Alliance for Smiles, has an informal, friendly, and creative atmosphere rather than one that is very formal and highly organized. There is no set dress code and there are no time sheets that you have to fill out for when you arrive and leave. You can take breaks freely as well. No one will be looking over your shoulder the whole time to see if you are on task (although you should not be checking your Facebook account), but there will be periodic informal check-ins to see the progress you are making and to assign new responsibilities. However, sometimes the fastest and most efficient way to communicate is to send a string of email messages. A definite plus side of interning here is that there is plenty of food and drinks in the kitchen (bagels/bread, yogurt, cheese, fruits, meat, nuts, milk, cereal, coffee, alcohol, and sugary snacks). Additionally, adorable kitties make surprise visits!

People in San Francisco prioritize tasks by writing a to-do list with urgent things done first and set short breaks about every half hour or hour. When handling conflict, my coworkers and bosses like to engage in deep, soul-reaching conversations by bringing out their misunderstandings and working on ways to fill in the gap. They are open to change and want to know more in-depth about others’ perspectives. Basically, the strategy is to talk until there is nothing to talk about. The goal is to get the problem fixed as soon as possible so that the organization is back on track. Time is money.

One of the disadvantages of living in a large metropolitan area such as San Francisco is that the cost of living is quite high. People spend a majority of their income on housing and the least on healthcare. When more people want to live in the city, the housing cost is driven up. However, the average hourly wages and employee benefits in San Francisco are higher than those of the rest of the U.S. Additionally, the unemployment rate is lower than that of the rest of the U.S., but accordingly taxes and job growth are much higher. Congestion can also be an obstacle, especially in Chinatown. People swarm around you from all sides and you can only amble along merrily at 2 miles per hour.


Even if I ride the bus/train/subway or walk on the sidewalk, there is traffic everywhere. Although it might not be a significant problem if there is no clock to race against, it can still be tiring to continuously wait or slow to a crawl. On a political note, San Francisco has been dominated by progressive activists and neighborhoods that significantly impacted the city. Most registered voters are Democratic. Interestingly, as for electing mayors, voters can rank their top three choices for mayor and if a candidate has a majority, the candidate wins.

Wow, so 2.5 weeks flew by and I already feel much more San Franciscan. This is what I mean: pigeon meat. It tastes like chicken, but much more tender. I really encourage anyone to try it out. You might actually fly.