Going Behind The Counter With HSM Employees


Illustration Credit; Sydney Riemer


Frannie: Having grown up in San Francisco and attending Saint Ignatius High School, she is a proud San Francisco native who has decided to stay in her hometown and pursue a master’s degree in public health. When asked about her time at S.I., she said, “I was definitely the weird kid at S.I. I did mostly costumes and theater stuff. But I have a lot of friends that went to Urban ‘cause I grew up in the area.” She believes HSM is “such a staple in the community. It’s nice to be a part of that. If I go to a show or out to a bar or whatever people will always recognize me. Well, not always, but usually which is pretty funny.”

Steve: A San Francisco native who graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in the Class of 2004. He can often be seen wearing a sports jersey around the store as he is a self-proclaimed sports fanatic. He said, “You could throw a year at me and I’ll tell you who won the World Series the year you were born. I’m also a pro-wrestling fan, I have been since I was a small boy, so that’s a really fun form of art and a type of escape that only certain type of people can understand like you either get it or you don’t, you know?”

Sam: He saved up for eight years and moved to San Francisco all by himself from Wisconsin. He said, “It’s way better here, there it snowed eleven inches last weekend.” When asked about Urban students, he said, “you guys are not bad, it’s the tourists, they’re just very clueless.”

Mateo: He came to work at HSM because “it’s just hella convenient. It’s so close.” The only thing he doesn’t like about working at HSM is spending money. He said, “‘cause there’s like hella food here, so yeah I spend hella money.” He did admit that “this place made me healthy, a healthy guy. At home, I eat like crap, but when I’m over here I eat all the fruit [at the store].” He’s passionate about music. He has released songs on Soundcloud under the username mateoBulosan.

Megan: She began working at HSM because she lives two blocks away and needed a job as soon as possible. She wanted to be a barista because the employees “seemed like fun people to work with.” The only aspect of her job she dislikes is awful customers. She said, “watchers are the worst. When someone intently watches you make a bagel or a coffee, it’s like wait just hold on, trust in the system, you gave me your money, I’ll make your bagel.”

How do HSM employees view Urban students?
It’s 11:50, a herd of Urban students is approaching Gus’s Community Market, or as it is more commonly referred to by students, HSM (Haight Street Market). Loud chatter can be heard ringing through the store, doorways are blocked by oblivious students waiting for bagels, and the Kombucha will need to be restocked by the time lunch is over. Are Urban students really annoying to HSM employees? After speaking with various HSM employees, it became clear that though Urban students do cause a disruption to the store, on the whole, they very much appreciate the business we provide the store with. As Megan, an HSM employee said “It’s pretty nice ‘cause it’s like clockwork. You come in around 11 or 12 p.m. Alright let’s make some bagels, we’re gonna be busy for like 10-15 minutes, make some chai [lattes]. I don’t mind it.” However, Frannie, another HSM employee, emphasizes how stressful the rush of business we provide the store can get. She said, “It definitely gets stressful to a point, like working in the cafe. The only other big rush we have is like the morning commuter people going to work, so it’s just a rush, you get used to like everything else.” Steve agreed, “It definitely has some negative effects. You kids come in, you’re here for about 20 minutes and you’re out. You’re only getting a couple of things.” He describes how adult shoppers are overwhelmed by Urban students and often exit the store without making any purchases while the Urban rush is in session. He said “they have this deer in the headlights look, like where did all these teenagers come from? I’m not in high school anymore!” But Frannie emphasizes that “as long as people are nice to you, it’s fine.” She went on to say that “you guys are more chill compared to some of the other more rude customers.” Steve also noted his appreciation for Urban’s open campus policy, speaking from the perspective of a former San Francisco high school student, he said: “It’s always nice to have an option of places to go, that’s always great.” In the words of Mateo, Urban’s relationship with HSM is positive in that “It’s business. It’s money. I mean you buy kombucha all the time.”