A Post-Structural Journey


root - Posted on 31 December 1969

In pursuit of Affordable Housing in Sacramento

by Anthony Kwong

Informed about Dee’s search for affordable housing in Sacramento,I left Poor Magazine’s office at 5:30pm on Thursday evening not knowing the name or location of the apartment. Fortunately, at least for the first two hours of my trip up to Sacramento, I was told that the apartment was near Arden Fair Mall.

I got home at 6:00pm and looked up directions to Arden Fair Mall, thinking that would provide sufficient information to find the Denny’s and Holiday Inn "right off the freeway" according to Dee and that a person with "half a brain can figure it out." Filled with excitement to find Dee’s dream apartment, I got into my car and decided to start my journey right away. Sadly, rush hour traffic quickly killed my excitement for the journey. I was stuck in traffic for about half an hour before traffic cleared up on I-80 East to Sacramento.

I finally arrived at Arden Fair Mall at 8:00pm only to find out that it was the wrong place. After exiting Arden Way, I couldn’t find Denny’s nor Holiday Inn as described and realized I was in the wrong place. I called Dee twice on her cell phone only to find myself disappointed on both accounts. I decided to give Lisa a call since I was informed that she was with Dee on the day they discovered Dee’s dream apartment.

"Hey Lisa. I was wondering which exit I get off of to find Dee’s apartment," I asked.

"I think you get off on the Downtown exit," Lisa responded.

At this point, I was saying to myself, "Great, more uncertain directions." Nonetheless, I acknowledged the new set of directions and continued my journey and back onto I-80 I went.

Upon exiting Downtown exit, I knew immediately that this couldn’t be the place. The atmosphere was quiet and lonely. The streets were dark like a black hole in outer space. I knew there was no way in hell that either Denny's or Holiday Inn existed there.

"Hmm…a Valero gas station, maybe they can tell me where a pair of Denny’s and Holiday Inn exists," I thought to myself.

[In an Indian accent] "I think you go under the freeway, make a left, then a right…(blabber)…then (something) on J Street."

Once again, off I went with a set of uncertain directions but this time I was more fortunate. I was actually able to find the letter streets, starting from Y Street and working my way up to J Street.

"Hmm…K Street Mall, maybe Dee meant to say this instead of Arden," a thought ran through my head.

I arrived at J Street excited to know that I was near my destination. Up and down the street I went, time after time, but no Denny’s and no Holiday Inn. I didn’t get it, how can a person with "half a brain" be able to find Dee’s dream apartment? I thought I had a whole brain being a mechanical engineering major at school. I began to doubt myself, but driving around in search of her dream apartment, I thought it through and it came clear to me: no one can find this place unless he was told the correct directions. How is anyone supposed to find the apartment with an unknown name, unknown phone number, unknown location, and of course, the unknown freeway exit off I-80 with Denny’s on one side and Holiday Inn on the other. It was like trying to find Utopia or maybe even Waldo. I love driving, it helps me think and in this case, it helped me regain my confidence.

Then, around Sacramento I went again, trying to find Utopia. I suddenly recalled hearing that Utopia was near Old Sacramento after seeing a sign directing tourists, like myself, around the city. Off to Old Sacramento I went in my lowered vehicle, not aware of the old brick roads of Old Sacramento.

"Where the heck (bump) is (bump) this (bump) apartment?" I asked myself while my vehicle bumped nonstop on the uneven road and attracted bystanders’ attention.

Noticing the bystanders turning their heads around to look at me, I decided to take advantage of this opportunity to ask directions to the "Denny’s across from the Holiday Inn." I rolled down my windows and started asking.

"Excuse me, would you happen to know where Denny’s is across from Holiday Inn?" I found myself asking time and time again.

"Nope, sorry I’m not from around here."

"Sorry, I don’t know."

"NO!!!"

These were the kind of responses I was getting.

With my mind drowned by frustration, I continued my journey blindly, taking myself where my hands on the steering wheel led me. I tried calling Dee again hoping she would pick up now after getting lost for an hour.

My first attempt ended in failure, hearing "DEEeeeeeeeahhhh" on Dee’s voicemail. I was glad that my second attempt was more fortunate since she decided to finally pick up my phone call. I guess she pitied me. But, once again, all I got out of the phone call was a useless direction: "It’s the freeway exit with the Denny’s across from Holiday Inn."

"Does this mean that I have to go on the freeway and get off on every exit in Sacramento until I find one with a Denny’s across from Holiday Inn?" I asked as I continued searching for Waldo with my eyes closed.

I needed a bathroom break after drinking two bottles of water on the trip and luckily for me, there was a Target on my left. I drove into the parking lot, parked and ran into Target for some relief. After stepping out of the bathroom, I decided to ask some more locals for directions while I was at Target.

I asked a Filipino girl at the cash register for directions. She was nice and trying to be helpful, but it didn’t work out. She told me there are quite a few Denny’s around and she was not sure if she knows one across from a Holiday Inn. At this point, I guess God pitied me and sent me some real help. A white well-rounded lady stepped up to me and said she knew exactly which Denny’s I was talking about. She told me the directions and once again, off I went thanking her for all her help.

"Go down I Street, make a left on Third and another left on J," I kept reminding myself.

When I got there, boy was I mad, it was near K Street Mall where I was earlier. I parked thinking that was the end of my journey’s challenges.

"There should be a box with flyers and the name of the apartment on the main door," I remembered Dee telling me.

I walked up to the main door, but no apartment name and no flyers. I circled the apartment once, but still no name and no flyers. Suddenly, a light bulb above my head lit up: I decided to call the office on the callbox they had in front, but there was only a voicemail and no phone number. Then, I tried calling the emergency maintenance hotline hoping they would supply me with the office number, but no, just another voicemail. What kind of emergency hotline is that? O well, I then decided the residents there. One after the other, the residents refused to cooperate, most of them being African American and White. They either hung up on me or right-off-the-bat said they didn’t have the office number without even checking.

I was ready to give up but decided to try one last time. This time I called a Chinese woman. I knew she was Chinese by the way she answered the phone by saying "Wei" instead of "hello." I decided to put my bilingual skills to use and communicated with her in Chinese, asking her for the office number. Half a minute later, she returned with the number and I was so grateful I must’ve thanked her at least ten times in the ten seconds I was thanking her. She wouldn’t know how grateful I was unless she saw my face that night.

And that was it, that was the end of my journey for the night. All thanks to that Chinese lady, I found out the name of the apartment and the office number. It was such a relief to finally achieve what I was sent there for. But all of that for just one number. Was it worth it? …I don’t know. Hopefully Dee would think it was 100% worth it. I think my journey that night might just be on par with Odysseus in the Odyssey.

About the author:

Anthony is currently a student at UC Davis. He has 6 dogs-3 are his favorite friends, Many, Mo, and Jack. He takes them out with him frequently.

Sometimes however, he devilishly refuses to feed them. They will go hungry for days on end. And his friends will chip in. They could win dog shows if he ever had the time to enter them. But he spends a lot of time studying because he is on a scholarship and could lose it by spending too much time entering dog shows. That’s his goal, though.

His other pastimes are flying kites and frequently playing all the latest video games. (Occasionally he will make balloon animals)(And he has trouble sleeping more often than not)(This is not well known)(This is his first attempt at writing non-fiction).

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