My Ben Stiller Movie Trip up North

This is probably one of the most terrible trips I’ve had ever. Every single logistical detail went harmoniously wrong, including wasting over 5 hours of accumulated driving time, breaking my iPhone, and having public toilet water splash all over my face. The only saving points were two people that have not disappointed me in my life (semi-rare if I worked with them for awhile): Peter Suberlak and Michael Cox. Other people who have not disappointed me yet are my CMO Jun Loayza, and my super developer Stephen Johnson.

Anyway, for some context: I was planning to go up to Oakland from Los Angeles (7 hours drive) to get an interview with Green For All, an awesome awesome organization focused on environmental sustainability and how it helps produce green-jobs to disadvantaged famillies. I planned to stay up north for 2 weeks, so I can get into the environment and potentially meet people to help out with various things. I planned to go up Thursday. The arrangement was I would live at my friend’s Dave’s apartment (he is in Taiwan), but I had to first go to a place 50min away to find his keys in a secret spot. The apartment would be 10-15 minutes away from my interviewing spot, which would be perfect since it’s scheduled early at 9:30am.

So usually, for trips like these, you would want to leave early in the day. However, I needed to give my keys to my girlfriend to take care of the apartment, as well as take her to class from work, I decided to wait for 2pm, no problem. I had work to do anyway. When I took my girlfriend to the Getty Center (class), we realized we were 45 minute early, so we decided to get some food. We decided to drive one direction and find spontaneous food on the way. However, after driving 15 minutes north we did not find a single restaurant, and realized we didn’t have time to eat and come back. So we drove back without eating, and that was an unhappy 30 minutes of wasted driving. Afterwards, I drove for another 20 min, when my girlfriend Amy called again. That’s when I realized I forgot to give her the keys for my apartment. There you go, another 20 min back, and 20 min up, which adds up to another 60 minutes of wasted time.

The trip up is decent. Just very tiring. For the entire 7 hours, I was listening to business podcasts or talking on the phone. It’s somewhat like a 6 hour lecture with the podcasts. Made one 5-minute stop for Subway, and that’s about it. When I arrived at the secret spot, I was completely exhausted. It was 9 PM and I needed to make my Skype meeting at 10PM. I looked around and could only find a garage opener, but not the keys to Dave’s apartment. It was very dark but I kept on searching through spiderwebs and such, hoping to find that key. Didn’t happen. Now I will surely miss the meeting and need to find a place to stay late at night in a foreign city. I have a lot of friends in Norcal, but not that many who I can just crash at without notice, who also is within 30 minutes away.

This is when Peter Suberlak, somewhat of my mentee who helps a lot in Future Delivery, called to check up. Once he knew where I was, he suprisingly said, “Hey! I live 15 minutes from where you are at! Need me to go help you?” That worked out, I chilled at his place. I also realized that I forgot to bring my dress shoes, and he was very happy to borrow me his. A savior of the day. I was slightly late for my meeting, and could barely speak intelligently. This was when I realized my limits: I can’t really function well as a human being after 7 hours of straight driving while listening to business podcasts. After the meeting, I went straight to bed. Instead of being 15 minutes away from Dave’s apartment now, I was an hour away, so I needed to wake up earlier in the morning.

The next day I got to the interview 5 minutes late, mostly due to unfamiliarity with the parking in Oakland and complicated one-way streets. The interview went great, and I made a good connetion with Green For All. Since I was close, I thought I might as well use the garage opener to get into Dave’s apartment’s building and use his wifi to get in touch with him. That’s when I realized that didn’t work either. After I found a wifi connection somewhere else, I found Dave online and told him that I couldn’t find the key. He was in shock, and after some investigation he realized that someone changed the arrangement. The garage remote I had was for another house close to where I found it, and I was supposed to use that to open the garage door, go into the house, and get the keys. So due to that, I drove another 50 minutes to that place, got the keys, and another 50 minutes back (extra 30 minutes to drop off shoes to Peter). I got into the apartment and everything is happy. I could stay there for 2 weeks comfortably while doing some good work.

That’s when I talked to my Legal Representitive talked to me about my sponsorship in the US. Green For All seemed to like me and would like to sponsor me, but they are checking if that’s feasible for the organization. My LR needed me to go back to LA as soon as possible for some documents, and plus, I only have 2 weeks to relocate to Oakland if everything passes. This was Saturday morning when I realized I should be home (plus it’s good to meet my FD meeting). Dave told me earlier, if I needed to go home early, give the keys to a guy name NK who goes there every night to do work. Unfortunately, he did not show up Friday night (quite understandable)I facebooked him, emailed him, called him 6 times in 8 hours, and there were no response. I also couldn’t get in touch with Dave. After resolving a small issue within the company at 5PM, I realized I needed to leave, or else I would be driving in horrendous status. I decided that, at least I don’t want things to be worse because of my visit, so I would take the keys to where I found it. That’s another hour of driving.

Early in the day, I also called my friend who is taking over my apartment. Amy gave her my keys because she needs to show case it for potential subletters. I called her in the morning, could not get in touch with her, so I left her a message. Pretty much saying that I will be back and I need my keys so I will have a place to live. On my trip back, about 6pm, she called back and informed me she was actually at Las Vegas. Well, I guess I need to find a place to stay when I’m back home too now, or I could sleep on my car.

The best part comes here. While it was around 7PM, I became pretty hungry because I have eaten that day was a footlong Veggie Delite from Subway. The solution? Another Veggie Delite from Subway. I’m trying to become more veggie, since I’m not too picky on what I eat. I was listening to my podcast with earphones connected to the iphone in my pocket when I felt I should urinate before I go back on my trip. While I was unzipping, my arms dragged the earphone cords, and pulled the iphone right out of my pocket, straight into the public toilet. The splash was mild, swift and smooth. But the gasp to my mind was not. There was this 1/4 of a second “should I reach into the toilet and grab it??” before I actually executed it. I tried to dry it up, and it said that it could no longer detect a SIM card. It then finally completely shut off and died. I tried to get the water out of the iphone, but after some shaky, it didn’t do much. Then I decided to blow air into the iphone. That’s when a lot of water suddenly splashed out onto my face. It was quite a lot of water, and it certainly was not very appealing, especially when you know it’s public toilet water.

After my Veggie Delite (it was still delicious I must confess), I was driving on the road, knowing that I would be doing so for another 4 hours without business podcasts, and without communication to the outside world. What’s worse, I told Amy that I will pick her up from a friend’s place at 1AM when I get back, and I didn’t know where the friend was. Now there’s no way for me to coordinate with her when I get there. Things seemed rather tragic.

Finally another bright light in the dark night. I realized I was really close to Arroyo Grande, where my good friend Nancy owns a 600 acre ranch. Another friend who I worked with in the California Student Sustainability Coalition (where I was the Finance Director), Michael Cox, also lives there. I appeared at his place about 10PM, and saw that he was having a party. It was actually a tiny bit awkward for me, because I remember him inviting me to this party, but I said I couldn’t make it. When I showed up, people were like “Oh, Yu-kai! What a pleasant surprise!” “I didn’t know you were coming!” “Yay!” when in fact, “Oh, I’m only here to borrow a phone so I can call my girlfriend.” This was especially weird to me, because some of the people there I have only seen for the first time in my life. We have worked together on the phone, but never physically met, and that’s the best kind of “great finally meeting you!” I could do. Others I have heard about but it’s the first time we had any sort of interaction. I stayed for about 20 minutes to share my trip with Michael and Crystal Durham (ED of the CSSC), used the phone to tell Amy that I will pick her up at an exact location at 1:15AM, and left again.

At this point, I was getting somewhat tired and delirious. It’s not common for a person to drive 7 hours after an intensive work day starting 5PM. I almost got into 12 accidents, including driving off the ramp and what not. I felt like resting, but I wasn’t able to, because I had to catch the 1:15AM pickup time or else Amy would be left in the cold. When I finally go there, it was 1:15 right on the point. I couldn’t find her, so I parked the car, and fell asleep right away. Amy then woke me up, and made me realize that there was a misunderstanding, and she thought we would be meeting at 1:30.

Once picking Amy up, that concluded a very eventful trip. Life is still good, besides needing to replace the phone. Now I just hope my sponsorship issue would turn out to be no problem. Whoever’s reading this, I appreciate you actually getting to this line. Hope you have an awesome week and that you will be successful in every activity you engage in!

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