Having lived down the hill, but occasionally working up here or working with people from here, I had a certain impression of the residents. Desert Rats is what many people call them... er... us. What I had noticed was that the people who came to my test sessions, whether it was for the GED or vocational assessment, were down-to-business, not necessarily polite. Generally speaking, they were also very smart. Considering that my main office... and main source of examinee interaction... was in downtown San Bernardino, smart very well could have been relative.
Oh, okay, I knew it wasn't. There's a sizable Ukrainian population up here, and even the majority of people I tested from Ukraine flew through the tests... in English. Sure, they had an interpreter, but most didn't need her.
Still, we've always said that people from up the hill were a different breed. That could mean the High Desert or it could mean up in the mountains, but either way, they were not the same as the flatlanders.
So I walk around the local shops and businesses with an air of suspicion. Maybe they're just waiting until I'm comfortable, but they're going to let me know I don't belong any minute. Yesterday I was sure the jig was up.
I went to the post office to deal with our mailbox lock. I'd like to add again in such a way that you know I have dealt with this three times now, but honestly, I can't muster the sarcasm. Here's why.
Early last week I went to our post office to see about getting keys for our mailbox. Every couple of blocks shares a box, so we have to have keys. I purchased the lock for $15. The woman who helped me told me I could do that or I could hire a locksmith to do it for about $150. No dummy here, heh! Corey and I couldn't get the old lock out. Tom couldn't either. We meant to get back to the post office, we just hadn't yet.
On Saturday morning the doorbell rang; it was our postman. (Nope, he didn't have to ring twice, but I'll bet he would have.) He offered to change out the lock for us. Half an hour later he came back. The lock turned to the right and we needed one that turned to the left. His supervisor said that if we trusted him, he could take it back to the post office and get the kind we needed. The Monday mailman would install it and give us the keys. We never got the keys, but I wondered if he'd stopped by while we were at work during the week.
Yesterday I went in to see about the status of our exchange. The woman recognized me immediately. When I explained the situation, she asked for my phone number, address and directions to our place. Then she said she was about to go on lunch, but that she'd drop by and get see what she could do. Half an hour later, there she was calling my cell phone. I looked out the window and saw her personal car sitting in front of our mailbox. She had opened it up and there was our mail from this week, as well as a bag with the keys to our new lock. I am still a little stunned. I cannot imagine the Upland post office doing this, and I lived about a mile from there. Our home is easily five miles away... and well away from any place that woman might have been going for lunch, too.
So I am re-evaluating my position. Not on the Desert Rat thing; I'm sure that'll stick. But over and over again I get the sense of living in a small town, even though the population board says we're just over 100 thousand people. Life is good!