I picked up a package from the FedEx facility downtown today. It was like visiting a foreign dignitary in a third world country. Hard to find, then there was a surprising amount of security, then it was a piece of shit.
I got off the freeway and followed my gut south (the directions the FedEx lady gave me were crap). I passed over a bridge, turned onto the right street, drove past a set of railroad tracks…
and then past warehouse after seemingly abandoned warehouse until I reached what appeared to be a cul-de-sac. But no! There was this weird entrance with a small sign that said “Customer pickup” on the chain mail fence topped with razor sharp barbed wire surrounding the rest of the cul-de-sac. On I drove toward what could only be an air strip, given all the chain mail fencing and open tarmac.
A parking lot! With weird buildings on one side…
…and a train on another side…
…and a whole lot of nothing everywhere else. I asked a man in a uniform walking past my car for directions.
“Excuse me, I’m here to pick up a package.”
Without looking at me, “Just park and head over to the guard building.” Then he started walking away without pointing to where said building might be.
“Where is the guard building?”
“Over there.” Then he walked away with certainty.
I looked toward where he had indicated. A small shack with windows and a few doors surrounded by fencing and… more nothing. I parked and decided this experience was too weird to not snap a few photos.
I headed to the shack, walked past the “Exit” door, past the sign that said “No weapons beyond this point” and into the “Entrance” door. There I found two guards. The White Guard was helping two other men through one of two metal detectors.
The other guard, Hispanic Guard, asked for a door tag, or something with the tracking number on it. I gave it to him, he made a call, came back and asked for my ID. “I need to check you in,” Hispanic Guard said.
I said, “Ok… Am I going somewhere?”
“Yeah, right across there to get your package.” He indicated across the tarmac to a large building. He politely took down my information, passed me through the metal detector, passed a wand over me, poked through and then closed my purse, double checked to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything, and told me to “follow the blue line.”
I followed the line to the building (after losing it once or twice while I wandered around), where my eyes needed to adjust to the darkness. For a ground floor with no walls, this area was depressing and dark. No one was around. The stillness was eerie. A few echoing clunks and clicks let me know that a machine somewhere was struggling to do its job. I walked past a motionless conveyor belt with packages waiting to be processed on it. It looked like a dead snake with a few mice taking a disappointing ride on its back.
I kept following the blue line.
It led me to an office where two dismal women checked my ID (again), had me sign something, beeped the bar code on the package, and sent me on my way. I followed the blue line back to the guard station. Hispanic Guard opened the door for me and passed me through the metal detector while White Guard chilled out. I thanked him and left, feeling like I had just gone on a quick trip over the U.S./Mexico border and back. Adventure!