So Mark was at the conference all yesterday, and I was shopping all day *cough*. So today you get my observations on the retail world of SF.
i) SF is really, really dog friendly. There are loads of dogs around (yet no dog poo...). I've seen a few people carrying little dogs in a bag, which starts to make sense when you consider the distances people might be travelling by foot, and the crowded streets in which a little dog might be a hazard. They're allowed in stores. A few stores I've seen have a water dish and biscuits just inside the door. Yesterday I saw a woman walking her pug in the basement level of Anthropologie (so, like, it wasn't that she just ducked inside quickly to pick up something). That's kind of like taking a dog into some of the fancier Claremont shops. That said, there do seem to be some unwritten rules - I haven't seen dogs in the department stores, for instance. Well, I have, but it was a homeless lady and her dog, so I don't think it counts.
ii) There's a much wider age range amongst retail assistants. The department stores have middle aged ladies as well as young 'uns (a little like Myer and DJs, I guess). But at Anthropologie they had young 'uns, a couple of middle aged ladies, and one retail assistant who was definitely in her 70s. Absolutely awesome.
iii) The accent is really easy to pick up by accident. I started saying 'thank you' in the American way yesterday because I heard/ said it so many times. Sometimes I love the drawl, sometimes I find it totally grating.
iv) We have this perception that Americans are all monolingual. No. Middle-class white Americans are monolingual. Most Latino people are bilingual. You hear Spanish spoken a lot (even outside the Mission, though in Mexican restaurants). My pronunciation of my takeout order last night was so miserable that the Latino bartender laughed at me. Damn.
v) Lots of restaurants do takeout and doggy bags (though they just call it 'boxing' the food). Colibri, the bar/ restaurant downstairs from our hotel happily made me takeout last night (stuffed poblano chilli with black bean sauce, and the most amazing churros in the world - churros filled with dulce de leche! *drool*). Farmer Brown's, which in fanciness and feel is kind of like Harvest, boxed up leftovers for the table next to us.
vi) It's true, America does have a better service culture than we do. Everyone is so helpful!
Oh, and I tried jicama yesterday. Not sure exactly what it is - it's some kind of pale green vegie that came diced into batons in my salad (with grapefruit and candied pecans...). Goes really well with grapefruit.