3 Beautiful Things, the downtown Berkeley post office edition
I. One morning, I was at the post office and somehow got into a conversation about languages with the woman at the counter who was helping me with my express-mail packages. And she told me that her now-29years-old grandson, almost 30, asked when he was 5 and they went out to dinner and saw a family who was communicating in sign language: “Mama Rita, are they speaking Spanish?”
And I, who have dreamed for years about one day learning to sign, couldn’t help but smile for reasons she probably wouldn’t have even guessed.
II. Another day, my co-worker and I ended up at the post office during our noon lunch-break, when, of course, the entire rest of the world who works in downtown Berkeley had the same brilliant idea. It was busy and crowded, our flimsy little ticket had the number 90 printed on it, and there were already 30 people in line ahead of us.
“God, I hate the post office,” I grumbled to R as the inexpressive employees at each window called people up one number at a time. There’s a reason why some consider visiting this post office to be equivalent to time and space travel to the Eastern Bloc, circa 1970.
No one got up, but people shuffled their feet impatiently.
No one moved.
“80!” shouted a man sitting on one of the benches against the wall, waving his numbered ticket in the air.
“80!” said the woman at the window.
The entire building erupted in whistles, cheers, and applause as the man raised his fists in success and victory-walked to the window.
Everyone around me was smiling as we watched the lucky man swagger across the room, and I was laughing so hard I could feel my face turning red. “This is why I…freakin’ love…Berkeley!” I gasped to R.
“It’s like they called the winning number, and he won the lottery!” she exclaimed.
III. One afternoon, just as I settled on a bench with yet another numbered ticket, I felt a light punch on my shoulder, and turned around to find Nipun at the post office. I gawked. I know he and Guri live in Berkeley, but to run into him outside our usual context of Silicon Valley was mind-boggling.
“What are you doing here?!” we both exclaimed.
In the midst of catching up, I told him about the organization for which I now work, and how it’s an exciting time to be at the place, since it’s going through some great projects and transformations. “So they brought in Yaznotjaz to handle it, eh?” he grinned.
“Yeah! And, dude, I’ve already got half the staff saying ‘rockstar’ and giving highfives!”
He squinted at me uncertainly. “Who’s ‘we’?”
I laughed. “The parents and I, that’s all. No, there’s no one exciting in the ‘we’ usage.”
He looked disappointed, and I laughed again. “Find me a rockstar, and there’ll be a ‘we’!”
“Should I put the word out in the community? I’ll have to blog about this, you know.”
I left the post office still giggling, and when I slowly strolled down the block back to my office, I sighted a pistachio-colored vespa – my latest favorite – parked in front of the building, and decided the day couldn’t get any better.