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November 20, 2002: Paying attention

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In my week-long search for a Starbucks (or somewhere with decent coffee) I got into my car this morning thinking that this day I would finally succeed. There is a Starbucks, they told me, just across the freeway from the offices we were to be in today. I set off in search, but the fog was so thick that I ended up cruising at minimum speed through a shopping center, peering desperately at the store signs in the hopes that one of them would indicate the presence of the immortal coffee bean. I spotted a little bagel and pastry shop with coffee and gave up, stopping my car and buying a large latte. It was only as I was leaving the parking lot that I finally found the Starbucks, that round green sign looming out of the fog as I drove past. Ah well perhaps tomorrow, now that I have finally pinned down not only location but also access.

I'd been to these offices before, but it was a while ago, and I couldn't remember whether to turn right or left once I entered the parking lot. I turned left, parked, got out, and asked someone, who noted that I should have turned right. Simple enough, I thought, climbing back into my car to go park near the correct building. But as I pulled out of the parking space, a man leaped in front of my car and refused to let me go forward. Follow the lines, I was ordered by this very determined person. The parking lot has arrows and apparently in these offices, driving against the direction arrows (even to just *cross the parking lot*) counts as one of the lesser mortal sins. I ended up having to actually leave the parking lot and then drive down the street until I could find a place to do a u-turn before I could finally get back to where I really needed to be.

When I entered the office, carrying my non-Starbucks but equally full of caffeine goodness latte, I explained away my delay by noting that I'd ended up at the wrong building. "Be careful," one of the county employees told me. "They take their parking lot directions seriously over there. You might get yelled at."

She was joking as she said it. I don't think she quite believed me at first when I told her that that is exactly what happened. It's been a running joke all day, how we have to watch which way we drive in this parking lot. And as we were leaving this evening, late enough so that no one else was around, we defied them all and took a shortcut against one of the arrows. If I'm arrested tomorrow by the parking lot police, you'll know why.

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