Monday, October 16, 2006

I guess you can't have everything

In my short life, I have resided in the following places:
1. Southeastern PA, 17 years
2. Western Massachusetts, 4 years
3. Northeast Ohio, 4 years
4. Northern California, 17 months and counting

I have spent a lot of time lately musing about the differences between Cleveland and Berkeley (Berkeley wins by a nose); between Western Mass. and Berkeley (Western Mass., dude, no contest!); and between PA and Berkeley (you can take the girl out of the East Coast, but you can't take the East Coast out of the girl).

At this point it should probably go without saying that I'm not a huge fan of California.

One area in which the Bay Area kicks other locales' butts is public transportation. This is a plus for two reasons:
1. Driving around here completely sucks; and
2. Public transit stories! 'Nuff said.

Berkeley also has more noodle houses than you can shake a (chop)stick at, multi-lingual signage, and the interesting yet totally scary Hayward Fault. The Hayward Fault is a "creeping fault," which means it moves constantly but very, very slowly; and after a couple of decades it displaces things like curbs, staircases, and Memorial Stadium. (Seismologists apparently track such movement with a creepmeter, which sounds more like something you'd want to have if you were single.)

But Berkeley lacks a lot of things. Among these:
1. Inclement weather. Forget spring, summer, fall, and winter; the seasons here are Wet and Dry.
2. CVS. Around here, if you say "CVS," people think you are talking about the rape crisis center.
3. Soft (read: completely stale) pretzels delicately scented with car exhaust.
4. Urgent care centers with evening and weekend hours.
5. Stores where you can get your watch batteries replaced.

Let me say a few words about items 4 and 5. People get all het up about the ER being clogged with non-emergent patients. Yes, it is a problem when people have to go to the ER for primary care because they don't have (enough) insurance. But some non-emergent, yet definitely ill, patients wind up in the ER because it's the only place open on evenings and weekends. There are fewer than five urgent care clinics in this general vicinity, but they don't operate on an urgent care schedule. They operate on a primary care schedule. Which means that if you find yourself with a nasty respiratory infection at 3:00 on a Saturday afternoon (as my wife did in August), the only thing to do is wait around for two hours in the ER for a prescription for antibiotics (which we did). It's not just the un- or under-insured who go to the ER for primary care. It's also the sufficiently insured whose illnesses don't know from normal business hours.

About those watch batteries. I have two dead watches at the moment. I know of two sorts of places which replace watch batteries: drugstores and jewelry stores. This end of Berkeley has a severe lack of jewelry stores. So I took my watches to Longs--but this happened to be the only Longs which does not deal in watch batteries. The cashier couldn't suggest a single place in Berkeley where I might have better luck. So I went to another drugstore, Elephant Pharmacy, which stocks health foods, yoga paraphernalia, and DVDs, but not watch batteries. The cashier helpfully recommended the Longs I'd just visited. I asked the ladies at two bead stores for suggestions. All of them said, "Try Longs." I went to a convenience store and asked, "Do you replace watch batteries?" The owner pointed to a display of AA, AAA, and 9-volt Duracells. "No," I said, producing one watch, "watch batteries." "Oh, no," said the owner. "We don't do that. Try Longs."

I do not understand Berkeley.


Anne said...

Try Sears. I know the one in Mtn. View will do it cause that's where I went last time I needed a watch battery replaced. Worse comes to worse, next time I see you give me your 2 battery-less watches and I'll get it done for you.

Anonymous said...

Sears also has a watch repair depot on the 2nd floor of the downtown Oakland store, 1955 Broadway.