Who You Can Meet on the Street

A person walking by the graffitti wall on Valencia and 23rd. Photo by Mario Chavez

On Friday, April 18th I went to Mission Local as per usual to work on snaps and articles I hoped I would post, or maybe just try to improve on my writing. But, as I entered Mission Local’s office, I was told I was going to go out on a photography session with Andrea and other interns. Hearing this made me glad, as I was a bit itchy to go out and get some fresh air.

After going out and taking many pictures through Valencia and some of the Mission’s alleys, we stopped to think what our next move would be. Then, Andrea suggested we try to interview people on the street to improve both photography and reporting skills.  My reaction was a quick “Oh my god, please no. I’m antisocial and can’t speak to people.” But of course, we all have to step out of our comfort zone sooner or later.

To my surprise, it was nice to find out it was not as hard as it seemed. I interviewed three people. An old, strong and confident woman who was self employed, a visitor from Copenhagen University and a loving father with his child waiting for the bus. They were all incredibly nice and interesting. I took their portrait, notes of our conversation and then waved goodbye. It was really exciting to be able to write about my first interviews and all that was left was to transcribe my notes. I must say, though, when you’re told to transcribe your notes, transcribe your notes. Otherwise your notes might be lost forever because you forgot to take them out of your pocket before doing your laundry. -Mario Chavez

"Well, I like his dog", he said. Photo by Yasmin Calderon.

“Well, I like his dog”, he said. Photo by Yasmin Calderon.

Walter Lopez, a 26-year-old man, was found sitting on a bench outside Philz Coffee having a conversation with someone who at first I thought was a friend of his. Later he explains that he has never met the man before, he just really liked his dog! Anyways, it turns out that he just finished attending college at UC Berkeley and is taking a year off. He says he grew up in the Mission and has played many sports such as soccer, baseball, and basketball but has never been on a team. As the conversation went on, he told me the dog was named Toby. Walter  said that he comes by Philz Coffee often, almost up to three times a week. He plans on being a lawyer in the future, but isn’t quite sure. -Yasmin Calderon

I Don't Know How to Smile. Photo by Yasmin Calderon.

I Don’t Know How to Smile. Photo by Yasmin Calderon.

This man’s name is Mario. We met him on Friday 18th and you have probably seen him a couple of times around Mission Street. Well today, the “Mission Local Crew” found him on his day off by Philz Coffee, on 24th and Folsom. We asked a couple of questions to learn about his story, and this is what he has told.

Mario describes himself as older than 25.   He works as a bus driver and said he hates it. He feels and knows that it is not the best career job for him, so I asked him what he would rather do. “I would rather do nothing,” he said. He gave some unique answers, such as when I asked him what he was doing by the coffee shop, he said just drinking lactose free coffee since he is lactose intolerant. He likes to relax on the benches and enjoy the day.

Mario is constantly moving around and has family in Daly City. If you thought he always worked his life as a bus driver, well, you’re wrong. He used to work as a photographer at New York American Photography. I’m not sure how or why he turned to being a bus driver if he hates it, but I guess he just wants to do nothing! -Yasmin Calderon

"People will be surprised I cut my hair." Photo by Mario Chavez

“People will be surprised I cut my hair.” Photo by Mario Chavez

During our interviewing spree, we met with Margo Freistadt, a 56-year-old woman who was just coming back from work and was on her way home. Freistadt has been working for the Jewish Weekly for a couple of years and she also started working as a self-employed handy-person who can fix many things. She has been doing this for eight years. Before these jobs, Freistadt worked at the San Francisco Chronicle for 25 years. Later she moved to the Jewish Weekly because she enjoys being “paid to read.” Even though she’s a really handy-person and so it seemed, she can’t fix heavy things or do new wiring. After a long and interesting talk with someone who has worked so long in the journalism field, we parted ways and went on to interview the next person.

Jim Haynes from Aquarius Records. Photo by Mario Chavez.

Jim Haynes from Aquarius Records. Photo by Mario Chavez.

Jim Haynes is a 42 years old guy who is currently working at Aquarius Records, which is a record store on Valencia near 21st Street. He told me that the amount of customers is steady, though more people come in on the weekends.  Haynes used to live in this neighborhood, and speaking of how long he has been working here, he said “longer than he cares to count.” -Janice Guan

Christy Colcord, from Lost Weekend, welcomes Misison Local once more into interviewing her. Photo by Janice Guan

Christy Colcord, from Lost Weekend, welcomes Misison Local once more into interviewing her. Photo by Mario Chavez

Christy Colcord, who is a 45 years old woman is one of the owners at Lost Weekend, which is a video store located on Valencia Street. She said that this was her 26th timeto be interviewed by Mission Local. She has been running this business for 17 years. While she used to live in this neighborhood, she thought it would be great to open a video store on Valencia Street. -Janice Guan

Shane Convery works at the Lotus Center. Photo by Janice Guan

Shane Convery works at the Lotus Center. Photo by Janice Guan

Shane Convery, 43-years-old, is a man I talked to on  Valencia near 21st Street. He talked to me about the job he does at nearby at the Lotus Center, an acupuncture clinic where he has worked for two years. He’s part of the administrative staff, where besides acupuncture, vitamin shots and massages they do Moxa –a type of treatment where mogwart sticks heat the body  to stimulate blood flow. Shane started working there thanks to one of his friends who he worked with at a non-profit acupuncture organization.  -Mario Chavez


Steve Vurgess, on 21st and Valencia. Photo by Janice Guan

Stever Vurgess is a 55-year-old man who we found by his van waiting for his boss. Vurgess was delivering supplies and towels to different locales. He’s worked for six months in this job and he worked before as a technician for a big company. –Mario Chavez.

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