GILL SOUTH

 Journalist | Editor | Speaker 

My Berkeley network

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After you have been in a place for a while, you get to amass a motley crew of people you come across when doing chores. In some cases they become people you know but they don’t necessarily know or remember you. I added to my network this morning.

At 8.30 sharp, I set off for the eye clinic at UC Berkeley to get measured up for progressive glasses. I did it without a gulp. The doctor said I was expected to get them four years ago but had managed to hold it off, so that was good enough for me. I did the eye exam and then straight on to the retail eyewear department to choose some specs. That will be three pairs I have now – a good excuse for a bigger handbag, some might argue. Seeing pretty badly – I had just had my eyes dilated – I nevertheless determined to choose a new pair there and then. What else is the point of one stop shopping? I called on two people who didn’t know me from Adam or Eve to help me. One, the very nice, elderly optometrist manager, (we’ll call her Edith) the other, the receptionist who seemed to have taken it on herself to be the eyewear expert among the administrators. On their advice – Edith especially  had a real air of authority –  I bought a black pair with green arms, I particularly like the green arms because even I could see them. Couldn’t tell you much about the rest of them though.

Next stop, was the post office which in the US can be quite a serious rule-abiding place. The statuesque African American man at the counter in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto district, asked me in a booming voice if I had any liquids, explosives blah blah to declare in my parcels. He was having a much more interesting conversation at the same time with someone in the back which I was trying to get a handle on. And what I especially liked about him was the name on his badge, something I’ve taken to reading since I was helped by a man called Dug at Bed Bath & Beyond. (People are very comfortable about leaving out previously thought useful vowels here.) This name on this gentleman’s name top was Big Dog. I wasn’t brave enough to call him that on our first meeting but I have a feeling the beaming woman next in line who greeted him as if she knew him, is on first name terms with Big Dog. Big?

Contrary to my childrens’ belief, I don’t loll around all day. I then went onto the T-Mobile store where we get all our family phones to give them the details of our terminated Verizon bill so they could reimburse me. Nothing takes two minutes at that place. By the time you get out of there, you know everything about the person serving you and quite possibly a couple of the others too. I saw dear Bob (not his real name) again. Bob is getting married in six months and his body doesn’t seem to be responding well – he has what looks like Bell’s palsy around the eye and mouth and he has had a few other problems too. He didn’t look any better than when I last saw him, poor love, so I didn’t like to ask. Last time I was in, my sister-in-law was advising what course of action he could take which helped pass the time anyway.

Meanwhile a big conversation was had with my customer service chap, Max (not his real name either) whose father is 6 ft 4 and brother is 6ft 3 while he is 6 ft 6 and his mother is from Costa Rica. Lovely man, we discussed the drive from Vancouver to Whistler and the fun hot spots of Whistler. Max was one of a few people recently who has guessed correctly that I am a New Zealander. Californians are pretty hot stuff on picking us Kiwis from Aussies. They even make it to NZ from time to time.

Anyway, now I have to get on and do some work. If only I wasn’t feeling so emotionally and physically drained after adding to my network.

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