Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

In all this running around and hectic scheduling and missing Berkeley without even leaving I’ve found myself nostalgic for silly little things. I suddenly can’t live without foggy mornings, overpriced coffee, and fantastic Mexican food (all of which are absent both in Sacramento and Accra). Sometimes it takes a reality check to make me snap out of it. You know what I’m not going to miss? Here’s a list:

Overall clad gourmet wannabe’s who eat at cheeseboard and when you say “I like your overalls!” they sneer at you as they respond “I got them in Brooklyn” and then turn to their sneery friend who asks “Is the pizza here gluten free?”

Students who respond to free bicycle service with “oh, $10 for parts…I’ll just ride it with a broken chain…and two flat tires, you guys should lower your prices.”

Any job interview that asks for a 5 year commitment and promises “invaluable life experience” and minimum wage while requiring you to show up at 4am.

Berkeley moms who demand proof of CPR certification and ask you to come to the top of Grizzly Peak every Friday night for a whole $12/hour. When you joke that most parents aren’t CPR certified she responds with “As soon as I got pregnant, I made sure to get my EMT certification.” Then she emails all your mutual friends warning them about just who’s watching their kids.  Mary Poppins never had to deal with this shit.

The homeless man who tried to punch me in the face while I was JRA to work.

Privileged yuppies who stroll into REI at 8:57 with a shopping list a mile long and ask “do you work here?” No numbskull, I just wear a green vest and a walkie talkie for kicks. Or better yet, the 50-something waspy old men who say charming things like “you clearly work in the women’s wear department, right? Is there someone here who can tell me about bikes?”

Idiot undergrads who travel in hordes with their headphones in.

You know what all these dreadful people have in common? They are why we can’t have nice things. But more than that, they are what make Berkeley unique. They give this city its wretched attitude, its drive, its unique smell (my kid brother Dan claims it’s a unique combination of unwashed masses, urine, and entitlement blended with equal parts weed and patchouli). Having survived these characters for a few years changes your outlook on life. Dad says it lowers your standards, I say it gives you a renewed sense of wonder at the world.

That being said, you know you’ve lived here too long when you start defending any of the characters listed above on the internet; or better yet, when you become your own Berkeley caricature. I’m sure that somewhere out there in the internet there exists a whole blog complaining about Berkeley twenty-something hipster bike mechanic nannying secretaries who work at REI to support their outdoor addictions, love gluten, and write snarky blogs about their shockingly boring lives.

But I digress. Sometimes the best way to get over a city is to leave it behind. (I’m sure my parents are thrilled to see this in writing. They’ve been telling me it’s time to leave for a year.) Knowing that doesn’t make it any easier; but remembering the sneer on Overall Girl’s face helps a little.

For now I’ll savor my foggy mornings with a cup of coffee, and once the sun comes back out, I’ll wander over to that nameless taco truck I’ve been meaning to try.

Much Love






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