{my new neighborhood}
      Moving In
        The day I moved in, I parked the 15-foot Budget rental truck out front in the loading zone. Four of my friends showed up to help me move my stuff inside (thank goodness), and between the five of us it only took a couple of hours.

        I made sure that one of us was always at the truck. I'd been warned.

        With all my belongings finally in my apartment and my friends all swilling beers safely inside, I ventured out alone to move the truck to an actual parking space. I was tired – and scared.

        I climbed into the gargantuan truck and started it up.

        These trucks all have rear-view mirrors on the windshield, though who knows why. All you can see in them is the dark inside of the truck. I'd almost run someone off highway 17 on the way out of Santa Cruz because I couldn't see where I was going. It's a wonder that all of Budget's trucks aren't sitting at the bottom of the mountains that separate Santa Cruz and San Francisco.

        I pulled the truck onto Buchanan Street to begin the arduous process of Looking For Parking. Suddenly, not ten feet away was the mother of all truck parking spaces. It was a good 15 feet long and on a corner. It was perfect.

        In a rush of parking lust, I barreled the van into the space – and that's when it happened. A car – a Buick, I think – had been pulling into the same spot in reverse. The driver, a black woman, threw her head out of the window and began screaming at me. Her passenger did the same.

        I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. And everyone's advice came screaming back.

          "Shady characters."

          "Be careful."

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