2 min read

Who are the people in your neighborhood?

At the desk, 6:37 a.m.

This morning, Rose and I went with the husband to get cash from the ATM. You see, he decided to give up the 7-11 for a year (long story) and that's where the ATM lives. Rose and I offered to get the money for him. Or really, I offered and Rose came along. Or more truly, Rose came because I told her to come with me and she's always up for an adventure.

In the dark, we pile into our old truck and head a few blocks over that way and around this way to the 7-11. I get out of the truck and the fun begins.

I say hello to the trainer on his way to teach spin class next door and nod to the homeless man warming his hands on a paper cup of coffee. Opening the door, I say good morning to the Kenyan man behind the counter. He gives me a broad smile which patterns the terrain of his flawless skin into hills and valleys. Without missing a beat, he says something to a woman unpacking chip bags near the refrigerated compartments. She says hello. Her single word holds the rich texture and complexity of Africa - sunshine, suffering, laughter, and love.

I make my way to the silent ATM and do my business. No, I don't want to see my balance. Yes, I'd like some fast cash. Thank you for your business the machine says. I smile into the camera and make a speedy exit. I maneuver around the homeless man with a skill that only a UC Berkeley graduate with years of experience can muster and make it back to the truck.

Rose thought I was gone forever or at least a day. She hops out of the truck and I give the money and a kiss to the husband.

Zoom! We're off.

Rose runs as fast as four legs can take her to the nearby grass. After her arduously long time in the truck, she needs to relieve herself. We do the dance of dog - pee, poop, plastic bag - and head down the walk. Rose zooms off to one of her favorite places - the rooming house that was the inspiration for Alex, John, and Max's rooming house - and decides she must poop there as well. With another trusty bag in hand, I'm bending over when a woman jogs out of the rooming house. Rose wags her tail and the woman smiles as she runs down the walk to her car.

I have to put the leash on Rose because she's fairly certain we left the husband at the 7-11.

"Let's go home."

We continue along in the daylights 'savings' time dark. We see Toby, the kind, round-bellied neighbor. He asks if I've had my coffee yet. I smile and tell him I'm on my way to one waiting for me at home. He laughs. We scoot around the guy pulling out from his garage. He waves before heading off into the dark.

A bicyclist with his headlamp blinking skids to a stop at the sign so as to miss us crossing the street. We smile. He smiles and takes off for downtown. We continue along until we reach our alley. We throw the prize bagged poop in the dumpster.

Rose looks up at me and I take off her leash.

Zoom! We're off again.

Rose runs down the walk, around the next door neighbor - I throw a 'good morning' into the air for him -, around the corner, and up onto the porch. (We taught her to do this.)

And here I am. Ready to conquer the world in front of this silent machine.

Who did you see this morning?