With the sun shining bright after four days straight of rain, rather than go home to San Rafael to ride my bike, like I should have, I went on a Mundane Journey instead. I’d been looking forward to this ever since I called the Mundane Journey hotline, as I had heard about it on KQED.
This weeks mission was to San Francisco’s Mission itself, only eight blocks from Miguel’s condo. “Perfect,” I thought. “Bella (Miguel’s little Jack Russell Terrier) and I will go on a little walk.”
I was very excited to see these streets I see every day in a brand new way. I think that Bella was, too.
My chosen route was down Guerrero, turn left on 23rd, and I thought it’d be nice to head down Mission back home again.
Here’s a building that I noticed for the very first time in my life.
I was struck by the ornate details of this next building. How many times have Miguel and I driven past this, without noticing?
After rounding the corner, Bella proceeded to get into a little argument with a fuzzy orange dog who, thankfully, was muzzled. Fortunately, I maintained enough calmness to notice these three A-framed homes, the only three on this entire block.
Just one block away from our destination, the That’s It! In the Center of the Mile corner shop, we spotted this lovely mural outside of a taqueria.
It was precisely after this photo was taken that my camera’s batteries died. I shall have to rely on my memory alone to tell you what happened next.
Well, we walked one more block to the corner of 23rd and Mission, and there it was, the That’s It! In the Center of the Mile Corner store. Outside were vendors selling jewelry and leather wallets.
I tied Bella’s leash onto a nearby garbage can to begin the next phase of the mission: to ask what the heck the story was of the store’s name. Where did it come from?
I walked into the dark shop. Loud oompa ooompa music played in the background. As the cashier chatted angrily with a customer, I went to the counter to the right. I cannot remember if those were pastries in the counter, or chicken parts. There was a man there who seemed to work there, and so I asked him the meaning behind the shop’s name.
“Why is this shop called That’s It! At the Center of the Mile?
“Uh. I don’t know, ask him,” pointing to the cashier.
I turned around to ask the cashier, who was standing in front of a wall hidden by shelves and shelves of cigarette cartons. I asked my question again.
“The name of this shop. Why is it called what it is?”
And now I present to you The Answer, the whole point of this week’s Mundane Journey. The answer was…
“I don’t have no idea.”
Bella and I walked home through the heart of the Mission, down its crowded, dirty streets, past the taquerias, the portrait shops, the grand Mission theater, past open markets with fruit stands.
Too many people noticed Bella, the seemingly cute little dog. One fellow in a baseball cap approached her, rubbing his hands together before sticking a dirty finger in her face. Do people think that dogs like this?
“Cuidado,” I said. “Es muy peligrosa.” Bella snarled at him. Miguel says she is a great judge of character.
“Hey, wassup wichyer dog, main!”
At twelve pounds, Bella might not look tough, but she can be vicious when provoked by the wrong people. She will be coming with me on future Mundane Journeys.
Continuing down the sidewalk, we were nearly run over by a man in an electric wheelchair traveling at full speed, through all the human traffic.
Bella was taking her frustrations out on the nearby pidgeons, so I opted to make a left on 19th to continue home on Valencia, where perhaps the streets might be more serene.
Two women wearing big, black sunglasses and matching boots were marching in our direction. “Oh! What a cute dog!” they exclaimed, reaching out their jewelry-dangled fingers.
“She only looks cute,” I warned. They giggled. I marveled that they thought that was funny.
It’s true. I just saw a part of the city in a whole new way.