Renée Perry

Photo Credit: Rick Cameron/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

You said, “There’s a new woman in my department. She just got to San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. Just a couple of weeks and she’s nailed down a job and a place to live.”

“That’s pretty fast,” I said.

I passed the house once, twice, then again. Then I went back to work, putting replacement parts, small screws, wires, plastic clips, into the back of the vans that the telephone repairmen would drive the next day.

I asked you, “Your new coworker, she’s from the Midwest, you said?”

You said, “Yes, Michigan. She’s just moved to town. She has the cutest dog, so smart.”

The next night, I drove by once, just the one time, then turned around and went back on my route. So many small pieces, each with its specific place, its drawer, its cubbyhole, its rack.

You said, “She drove all the way here in a Honda Civic. You know, the ones that look like they put a car shell on a motorcycle. All those miles, can you imagine?”

The third night, I didn’t go off route at all. I finished my trucks, hung out with my coworkers at the barn, had a beer and came home where you were already in bed.

“All that way with a dog in the car and all her stuff. I don’t know if I would have done it,” you said. “When I moved to California, my sister was here already and I knew people. Coming out all that way and not knowing. It’s so brave don’t you think?

I said, “Yes, I guess.”

After a week, I drove to half a block away from our home. I turned off the lights, turned off the engine. I sat there, looking at the cars on the street. There was your car. And there was her car too.

When we had breakfast the next morning, I didn’t mention the cars. I wasn’t supposed to be there. I was supposed to be on my route, driving from garage to garage. I had one route with no change, no deviation. I should have been miles away.

I said, “Your new coworker, she must be settling in now, right?”

You said, “Not really, she doesn’t know that many people here yet. Mainly our work group. You know how hard it is to make friends in San Francisco.”

I said, “Yes, yes I do.”


Renée Perry lives and writes in the Central Valley of California. She has been a population ecologist and a nonprofit operations manager, though not at the same time. Twitter: @rroseperry Email: rroseperry[at]