Monday, September 22, 2014

This adventure brough to you by the US Post office

I figured I wouldn't be sending a whole lot of letters anymore, and certainly none for banking, but life apparently has a way of ripping plans to shreds.  So today I found myself in the public library with recently printed documents to mail out and Google telling me the closest branch was two blocks away.


Except I walked in and saw a sign that said 'no stamps'. There was pretty much only po boxes and a customer service desk. But the lady behind the counter pointed me to an address down the street a block so off I went.

And found myself in front of the Philip Burton Federal Building.

I remembered the little Chinese lady saying something like the post office being on a lower floor, and it was 20 min to five, so I took a chance and walked to the front door. I don't know what the doorman thought, dressed in his business suit and standing at parade rest, while I huffed in with two bags of textbooks I had just checked out.

I wish I took pictures of this place, but I didn't know if that was allowed.  I had to have my bags scanned, and then got chastised because unlike the airport where you just have to take you laptop out of your bag, here you have to take your cords out too. And your phone. And wallet. But he totally knew what he was viewing through the screen so why take it out? And I had to walk through a metal detector too. To go to the post office!

I got directions (take the elevator down a level and follow the signs) and it was a little surreal walking into the elevator alcove and seeing a wall full of 'most wanted' profiles.  And more so when the elevator doors opened and I was reminded of the basement levels of hospitals. I was staring at a vending machine and a sign for a freight elevator. The post office was down here? And a customs office?

Honestly, I thought I was following directions for a store room and not a mail counter. But there it was, tucked past all these 'for authorized use' only swinging doors (that really might need more security for a federal building). Talk about the most depressive post office ever. Only one counter, and one worker, to sell stamps and sort incoming mail for the po boxes. No windows. And no pretty bubble wrap envelops for a bit of color. I'd go crazy in that environment. Or read a lot of books. I can't imagine many people actually step foot there a day.

Leaving that place was just as weird, going from this gloomy environment to the nice open lobby above and then bright sunshine. And wa~ay to much effort for a two minute errand. I need to find a closer post office.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Interesting People

Last night, walking into the dining room of my boarding house, an old man called out to me due to my UofM sweatshirt. His name was Chuck, and apparently he had been deputy police commissioner in Detroit during the riots.

He reminded of this guy I met named Ed.

I meet him the summer of 2008 on Mackinac Island. At first he was just this old guy who taught me how to drive a horse drawn carriage and drilled the history of the island into my head.

This is what I learned in.

Ed was interesting because he had a glass eye, he had lost the original during the Korean war. (Or was it Vietnam? Phaw, doesn't really matter.) But then my fellow new carriage tour drivers and I kept learning more and more.  Ed's teaching of us was a break from his normal job - bounty hunting. And not just petty people, mobsters who had skipped out on court dates because the pay was better. Ed mentioned how for most jobs he and his partner never went after the criminal, instead they went after the family for either information or to smoke out the crooks. Before he was a bounty hunter though, Ed had been a bodyguard. For Elvis.

Ed's story fascinated me. At 19 I had never met some who had done such a number of cool things. And then I realized, I want that. I want the adventures and trips, the stories to tell people. I want someone down the road to believe something similar of me - that I'm an interesting person. It's enabled me to do a couple of things I might not have, such as whitewater rafting, climbing Mt. Chilalo, or paying a shepherd to get close to his camels for the following photo.
Should have tried to pet it too.

Within the past 18 months, I've been told by two people that I've had an interesting life. And I guess I have - I've technically lived abroad twice, started and finished large scale projects, and have seen and done some amazing things. I have lots of stories to tell.

But just having been in San Francisco for less than two weeks I already have more. The weird people I've seen on the street, the crazy amount of running through the city while we illegally park to complete a scavenger hunt, and running into people like Chuck.

I started this blog to share my stories of Ethiopia. That part of my life, it's over. It's still a big part, a huge part considering how often it slips into conversations, but life moves on and I have new stories to live.  I still want to share them, writing helps me think and it helps me connect with people. So look forward to those! But these adventures will be homegrown from the streets of San Francisco, not the dirt roads of Ethiopia, and probably less frequent (though I do now have more consistent Internet...). Still, I hope to see you all around.