Yesterday I visited San Francisco City Hall. I went to get a business license and to file a fictitious business name statement from my new project, 67 Central Software.
I set out to pursue a simple business errand, but I ended up at the center of dozens of changing lives.
There were two offices involved in my odyssey. I had to file a business registration at the office of the treasurer and tax collector ($25 for a business with a payroll of $0) and then, with that paper in had, I had to file a Fictitious Business Name Statement at the county clerk. The whole errand was unexceptional. I had filled out the PDFs forms and printed them before I arrived. At both offices I took my number, waited my turn, paid my money, accepted my paperwork and moved on.
I was in and out in 45 minutes. But I had walked through the doors of change with my fellow San Franciscans.
There were some rumblings of this at the Office of the Treasurer. When I arrived there were 3 people talking with a receptionist and another 3 who had moved on to submitting their papers to a clerk. There was a separate section of the office devoted to paying taxes and some other things, so everyone near me was in some way working on starting a business. I had a degree of hope and expectancy that I saw reflected in all the other faces, a hope that was not dimmed by the dispassionate jading of the clerks.
None of this prepared me for the excitement of the County Clerks Office. There were about 8 ahead of me when I arrived at, so I had some time to sit and observe. A couple of people seem to be filling routine paperwork, but everyone else was in a couple, some couples alone, others with a single friend or companion, others with parents and uncles in tow.
These couples were getting married! Talk about stepping through a door.
I don’t know why I was so surprised. I received a marriage license and filed it at the County Clerk’s office, but that was when it was in a temporary location while City Hall was seismically retrofitted and refurbished. There may have been some couples who were going to get married immediately after receiving their licenses, but because of the openness of the new space, and the beauty of city hall, everything was more public.
The hope and happiness of the couples and their families was great to be around. I felt envious of the clerks for being able to participate in such joy each day.
If you need a quick pick-me-up, you could do worse than spending a half hour in the county clerks office.
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