Sandy Eggo and Me

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downtown adventures February 4, 2010

Filed under: etc,odd jobs,places — thenchonto @ 5:50 pm
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I took a census employment test recently. I think everyone has by this point, so that’s not much of a revelation. It was my first time visiting the central library, though, and since this blog is partly about my new-ish home city, I thought I’d offer up a flowery description of the place/my day downtown.

I make it a point to center downtown adventures around Horton Plaza whenever possible in order to abuse their three-hour free mall parking. All you have to do is validate your ticket inside the mall. I highly recommend this. The entrance is off of fourth ave. just before F street, under the big, flashy, red “PARKING” sign.

The central library is just four blocks away from the mall, down E St.  This location serves as a hub for all the other branches throughout the city, so it’s rather large. I walked past the maze of circulation desk options, sinking into the smell of library books, and waited until the information desk guy looked up to ask where I was supposed to go. The central library is absolutely overflowing with helpful and informative signs, which would be nice, if you know,  more of them had arrows and pertained to events currently in progress or at least something relevant to anything I might want to do. I had forgotten how much the smell of libraries and used bookstores calms me. It is my hope that one day I’ll find the quintessential perfect bookstore and reach a level of meditative nirvana most devoted monks only dream of, but I digress.

The help desk dude pointed me toward a set of sketchy side stairs. A “staff only” sign hung on the wall beside them, but pretty much everyone seemed to be taking the forbidden stairs. So, did that sign pertain to some hidden room/doorway/item? Or do none of the signs in the library ever get read? If so, I pity whoever plasters the walls with them, as their life must be a perpetual testament to futility.

On the second floor I found myself facing “children’s media”, with some sort of fine arts room on the opposite side of a glass wall beside me. Off to the right lay the hallway described by the information man – one long corridor with bathrooms at the end. Upon knocking on the meeting room door I was told to wait while the proctor set up the room. Slowly, a ridiculously diverse line formed behind me (all totally probably fifteen or so people showed up, fitting every possible description). The homeless downtowners seem to rely heavily on the library’s public facilities. A near steady stream of haggard people with backpacks and duffel bags filed past while we waited, going to and from the restrooms. Within the hallway the scent of the library faded away beneath the swirling, competing mixture of alcohol and hand soap.

The tables in the meeting room were the trapezoidal kind that fit together to form either rows or hexagons. These were arranged in rows, bringing me back to junior high scholastic bowl. I sat calmly poised, hands folded on the table, envisioning the big, older style buzzers, the confidence of being captain of my hyper-intelligent group of friends, plunked right in the middle, staring down the high school age moderator, feeling nothing but a burning, desperate need to kick Mt. Vernon’s ass. What was that one guy’s name? Todd? Tom? Archie Nemesis? I wanted to get started. I wanted to win. Instead, we filled out forms for a half hour, spent another half hour on the test, and then waited awkwardly for the proctor to grade the scantrons so we could leave knowing whether or not we needed to schedule a retest. I passed, but I don’t find out whether or not I’m one of the chosen until at least the end of the month.

Back at Horton Plaza I took the wrong stairs and found myself gazing longingly at my vehicle, perched on the other side of the mid-garage chasm, unable to actually reach it for an embarrassing ten minutes or so. Fun fact – until college, I had never driven a vehicle into a parking garage. I had been the passenger in a garage setting many times, sure, but by the time I was old enough to drive, I usually Metro Linked into St. Louis, and, well, there weren’t any parking garages anywhere closer to me. So I’m still learning.

And… then I drove home, blasting indie techno-pop music all the way up fifth avenue. Because that’s how I roll.


backseat driving lessons January 13, 2010

Filed under: odd jobs — thenchonto @ 1:53 am
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Currently, when I’m not upholding my title as “fiercest job hunter in the urban jungle”, I work as a part time chauffeur/errand queen. Every day I wake up and relive a little more of the plot of Driving Miss Daisy. My employer/ward is approximately 76 going on 110. For the sake of privacy and proper nouns, we’ll call her “Mabel”. She is stubborn, quirky, and the least subtle micro-manager ever.  Yesterday she walked me out to the garage and explicitly instructed me to park the car as far to the right as possible following our errands. So I did. Before I left, she insisted on checking.

Now, “Mabel’s” garage is the smallest I’ve ever encountered. More accurately, it’s a large shed. The left wall is primarily storage – hanging lawn accessories, holiday items, etc, all blanketed in dust so that no single item stands out, save for the couple paint cans I almost hit every time I open the driver side door. With a tiny work bench at the back corner on the right hand side, squeezing a vehicle inside the building at all is an accomplishment, but “Mabel” insists I back in to the spot. Even this would be less of a big deal given an adequate driveway, but no – her garage sits backwards, sidled up against one of San Diego’s incredibly narrow alleyways, across from an eight foot high fence. My parking job is always crooked and always incredibly frustrating.

“Mabel” doesn’t drive anymore – that’s why I arrived on the scene in the first place. Still, upon inspection of my parking job she insisted on “fixing” it. I looked on in horror, unsure what she meant and how that would be possible and how I would explain the incident later on to her loved ones. It became clear almost immediately that she was going to crush a yellow hose thing that had fallen to the ground. Out of concern for my nice, intact skull, I didn’t attempt to rescue it. I managed to save the work bench only through an incredibly exaggerated display of shouting and flailing such as I’d normally reserve for dire emergencies or rock concerts. In the midst of this, I got a call for a phone interview with a local business. At the very least, I certainly made an impression with them (luckily, they were nice enough to let me call them back after the crisis was averted). In the end, I am truly in awe of the fact that “Mabel’s” mid-sized sedan still has side mirrors. I braced myself for another battle today, but fortunately, there was much less resistance. Also, I followed her route to the grocery store instead of mine (in some situations, you just have to concede and rack up the brownie points wherever possible).

And that’s your two part intro to my orb of insanity.