Elena Valle: Courtesy Clerk, Berkeley Bowl

Spotted in: Downtown Berkeley

Occupation: Courtesy Clerk, Berkeley Bowl

What are you up to today?

I'm trying to learn how to skateboard. I'm using this board that a friend of mine gave me. Basically during my lunch or my break when I'm at work I go on this street alongside Walgreens and try my best to stay on the board for as long as possible—or I inevitably fall. I'm also just listening to some Interpol. They're one of my favorite bands, and it's helping me concentrate.

What made you decide to take up skateboarding?

Out of nowhere I decided, you know what? I really want to skateboard. It happens with me. And luckily I happened to have this friend who's really into skateboarding. So I was like, you should teach me because that way it'll be easier for me to get across town—I walk a lot. Sometimes that takes a while and I'm like, ughhh! Why am I not there yet? So he ended up giving me one of his old boards and I've been trying to learn how to use it on my own.

Have you tried out any other parts of Berkeley?

Well for now, I've only stuck to this street but I've also been to places like the Richmond Marina. Basically trying different terrain and seeing how well I can adjust to it. For now mostly, it's just trying to maintain my balance on the board itself.

Has your friend been giving you any pointers and tips?

Yeah, he's been helping me a lot. The foot placement is very important to steer and also maintain your balance. Some little tricks on how to maneuver and all that. None of the hard stuff, like the actual skateboarding tricks. I'm not there yet. Someday I'll be there.

What's your occupation?

I work as a courtesy clerk/bagger at Berkeley Bowl. I've been there for about five months now. It doesn't seem like long, but my bosses already have me training some of the new people.

What do you like about working there?

The employees definitely. I got to befriend most of them—they're really supportive. They'll help me out if I'm in a situation because they know my position. They've been in it before. They make it so much more bearable whenever I have to deal with any unpleasantness.

Are you currently a student too?

That's actually later. I had to halt my school plans mostly for a financial issue. I can't go because I really don't have the money to go. So right now I'm trying to work and save up what I can before I can go to a community college maybe.

Do you know what kinds of things you'd like to study?

There's a couple of things—like criminal justice is definitely one, there's also astronomy because I really like space. It's my favorite topic ever. Science class, I was super juiced about that. Also game design or animation. Somewhere in that top three.

How did you become interested in all of those things?

Well, I've always loved to draw as a kid—that was one thing. My dad got me into video games. He's the one who got me my first Playstation 2 and it was like, ahh! I got so obsessed with it! It's like my life now, my biggest hobby basically! So I became super interested in seeing how that works. The animations—like some of the cutscenes and stuff, were super amazing and I was like, I kind of want to do that. And since I was a kid I've always had a thing for space. Learning about the planets and the stars and stuff it was like, I don't know. I guess the fact that there's a whole other life outside of our own. That really interested me. And criminal justice—I want to help people, pretty much.

What are some things that have sparked your interest recently?

For the gaming part, they've been coming with up with new technology to make virtual reality. And that's really got to me because I kind of want to get into that. To become part of that whole movement. And seeing the success of independent companies makes me want to create my own game—it gives me an idea, like oh, maybe I can succeed in the same way.

What are some interesting things you've seen in terms of virtual reality?

I do go online a lot, especially on YouTube. You know, watching Let's Play videos with YouTubers and the new merchandise they release. Let's Plays are basically when a YouTuber plays through a game and you kind of watch them do that. I mean, some people kind of make fun of it but it's like, for someone like me, who is kinda broke who can't buy that stuff and try it on my own, I have to make adjustments for that. So when they first released the Oculus Rift, the YouTuber I was watching had one and he was showing the audience how it works and the mechanics of it. And then they made a more improved version with even more realistic mechanics. So things like that have been inspiring me.

What is the reviewer that you generally like to watch?

PewDiePie. He's one of of the top YouTubers. I remember being super hyped out when he first showed his Oculus Rift. I was like, what is this?! What can it do?

What is something that's been on your mind lately?

I had recently gone through a really rough patch—with both work and my personal life. So I kind of had to deal with that but a lot of good things are happening to me right now. Like getting a new skateboard. And my brother gave me his too to practice at home! All these little things are making it better. Right now I'm just focused on not falling and scraping my face on the pavement.

Who have been your recent inspirations?

Definitely my friend. I've been hanging out with him more often. We don't really talk at work because we're in different departments and both busy. So he's been my inspiration to go out and try some things. Especially with skateboarding—because I was terrified of it before. Also my brothers—they always try to encourage me on how to live out my life. Like the mistakes I've made, they tell me how to deal with it. How to move on and stuff, and how to be careful with my choices.

How would you describe your personal style?

My style is . . . weird. Let's just say that. How my friends describe it is, oh yeah, one day you're like super preppy and the next you're super butch. And then you're somewhere in between the next week. And I'm like, yeah, it happens I guess! For right now though, I definitely try to wear something that's both appropriate for work but at the same time with good shoes for skateboarding. I don't know how do describe it. I just wear whatever. Sometimes it looks OK, and sometimes you're like, ehhh . . . 

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