Sunday, March 29, 2009

Crazy Gringo

Last week was the first week of my new job. I’ll write about the job itself a little later. For now, I want to talk about my new commute.

There are several routes I could take to my office. One of them is a major highway, and I’m avoiding it because everybody takes it and it’s a stressful parking lot every morning. Another route takes me directly through several congested areas on secondary roads. The best solution I’ve found is a road that takes me around the congested areas altogether. It’s a bit longer, but it’s a pretty easy drive. However, it’s a very different drive than my old commute.

My old commute took me through a couple of upscale communities with big estate homes sitting well back from the road on precisely manicured lawns. I now drive through a gritty, blighted urban landscape, full of weedy vacant lots, shabby tattoo parlors, pawnshops and strange churches that don't seem to claim affiliation with any known denomination.

Some of the churches are huge and prosperous.



Others are small and humble.


There’s actually a funny story about this last shot. I had to pull over about half a block from the church and walk to it. I fell in behind a Hispanic man who was walking the same direction. The sky was ominous, rumbling with thunder. I could sense that rain was coming, so I started to walk more quickly, gaining ground on the Hispanic man. He noticed my quickening pace and kept glancing over his shoulder at me nervously. I got within arms’ length of him just at the front of the church, and he was about to sprint for his life when the sky opened up and the rain came. I was able to fire off this quick picture and dash back to the car as the rain came down in buckets, soaking me to the skin. I’m sure the Hispanic man is in church right now thanking God for the rain that saved him from the crazy gringo.

My new office is located in a busy downtown setting, vastly different from the sterile glass-box office parks I’ve been working in for the past 11 years. I’m within a short walk of McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Chick-Fil-A, Taco Bell, Steak-n-Shake, Popeyes, and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. It’s a good thing I have bad knees, so I won’t be tempted to make that walk very often.

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