Up all night preparing, up at 8am to check and recheck. Shower, makeup, hair, outfit: all’s in order to present myself. My gold Casio beeps the hour and I launch out the front door. Shit! Staples! I forgot staples. All my two-pagers are just floating in the folder, they must hold hands! Ok just get on the bus and get there, worry about staples later. The bus is pulling away but it waits for me, I board, sit down, and exhale. Knowing myself as having a horrible sense of direction, I am on my way with an hour to spare.

The neighborhood changes. I glimpse the almighty view of downtown that can only mean I am in Bernal Heights. Suddenly the scenery changes and dark black trees slowly lean toward the road until we are barreling through a canopy of gloom. Houses disappear behind us and only the desert is ahead. The pavement disintegrates to rock and dirt and the bus driver hollers back at me, “this’ yer stop.” I hesitate before stepping off the platform. Where the eff am I? Too late, the bus has vanished. A lone tumbleweed lolls past, and then I am alone again. I make the call.

“Uh, I think I’m at the wrong place.” Yes, he confirms, I am on the other side of the city with no hope of reaching the appointed meeting place in time. I dial every cab company in town and recite the nearest address. Dial tone. Call again. “Yes, I need a cab at 3003 3rd St.” Dial tone. Stranded. Not a car in sight, not a human within reach to ask for directions. I see a looming sign over the road that reads “Recycling Center” in tarnished, twisted metal as 18 wheelers emerge from the black tunnel and barrel past me. I turn left down the half covered rail tracks and walk.

My high heels crunch the rocks and barbed wire underfoot as I work hard to maintain balance. Through the fog I see a faint light, I pursue it. Appearing next to me are half-men digging through trash, their black eyes shining as they howl and pant at me. I run. Suddenly it is bright and I am on the road again, sun beating on my dirtied collared shirt and wilting hair. I call another cab and wait dutifully next to the designated address. A hoodlum creaks past me riding his shopping cart full of soiled clothes and blankets, hissing and pointing for me to jump in the cart.

Twenty, thirty minutes go by and I anxiously await my carriage. Finally I see a speck of yellow in the distance and I jump into the middle of the road. The cabbie sees me ¬†and pulls over, welcoming me into the front seat with him. He is jovial and talkative, immediately informing me of my luck for getting a cab out in the middle of Hunter’s Point. “We no go there cuz we no wanna die, haha. Every night we see dead bodies in road here.” We zip away from the ghetto and blast back into the city. I see water, I see trees, we fly by the ball park. I relax. Ten minutes later I am best friends with the cabbie and forgetting my previous trauma. Totally missed my interview, but what the hell can I do now? He assures me, “never take bus to interview. Always take cab. No bus, no worry!” Damn right.

As I pull out a wad of cash to pay the man, I stop and ask, “Do you happen to have any staples?” And I make a chomping gesture with my hands.

“Why yes! Haha you pick right cab” And he hands over the precious tool. I pull out my folders, carefully staple each document, and jump out into the sunshine. An hour late, sweaty and on the verge of tears. But at least I got my staples.