Sleeping Dogs Lie

Today’s Doonesbury reminded me of a curious incident during my recent trip to L.A.

Getting off the freeway in Gardena, on the way to our appointment, I passed by this place:

Guard dog rental? Amazing heroic mural? I had to stop and take a picture. I did a few U-turns, stuck my camera out the window, took some shots (even from across the street I could hear that kennel sound of a million dogs barking), and headed the last mile to my appointment. Parked in front of our participant’s building and getting our gear ready, I was surprised when a Hummer pulled up beside us. The window rolled down and the uniformed driver, presumably the guy in the mural, said to me “You were taking pictures of my building?”

I really was confused; it was already a few minutes ago and a mile away; I was on to the next thing and it took about 15 seconds to realize that i) he had seen me across the street taking pictures and ii) he had got into his vehicle and followed me for a mile to check into it. Once I realized that he was not asking about the building I was currently standing in front of, but something from a few minutes ago, I explained that he had a beautiful mural. And this was a perfectly satisfactory answer. He told me that some of his puppies had been taken, and then introduced himself and gave me his business card. We wished each other a good day, and he drove off.

I thought about what had just transpired and how it could have been so different. There was nothing threatening about this man or his manner, just his context (a large and physically present individual who runs a security firm in a Hummer); given that he embodied a potential threat, he gave off a pleasing calmness, with no undertone of intimidation. I was not scared or uncomfortable; but I realized very quickly that the scenario was one where those feelings would be typical, and I attribute this guy’s serious coolness for keeping it that way.

See more of Steve’s L.A. photos here.


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