Thursday, July 21, 2011

Is San Francisco Less Honest Than Chicago?

Walking across Justin Herman Plaza yesterday morning, I came across several racks of bottled tea from Honest Tea (a division of Coca-Cola). The stand was unattended, with a sign asking people to pay $1 into a box if they took a bottle.

Apparently this was a national promotion involving 12 cities across America — "a social experiment," according to the company, to test how honest people were.

It turns out Chicago was the most honest city: A whopping 99 percent of people paid. That was followed by Boston (97 percent), Seattle (97 percent), Dallas (97 percent), Atlanta (96 percent) and Philadelphia (96 percent).

San Francisco ranked eighth, with a 93 percent score. (New York and Los Angeles were the worst, at 86 percent and 88 percent, respectively.)

I wonder if this test was fair to San Francisco. I imagine they set up shop in Chicago near a pristine stretch of Michigan Avenue.

Justin Herman Plaza, meanwhile, is flanked by a homeless encampment — on the western edge, along the Embarcadero. Can you blame them for helping themselves to some free bottles of tea? (Or as they call them, "mixers.")

A homeless person trying that in Chicago (jf such a person still exists) would be dragooned in about five minutes.