I was having a bad day anyway. I left home without remembering to sign my housekeeper’s check, and she was leaving for two weeks that day. I would have rushed home, but the Jaguar was flat out of gas, so I didn’t have time (if there’s ANY chance of the Jaguar dying on the way, trust me, you don’t take that trip). Jack in the Box was out of napkins, which pretty much guarantees I’ll dump that giant soda in my lap, doesn’t it? And by the way, Jack in the Box announced that they’ll be closed on Thanksgiving–what the hell am I supposed to do NOW???
However, I did not expect to spend my lunch hour at a riot. Now, if you know anything at all about my life, you may find this strange. But I THOUGHT I was having a quiet lunch with LAPD officers Doug Abney and Sergio Guzman to discuss the annual charity airlift. Let me say that it is great going out to lunch with the police in the black & white car. You get to park anywhere you want, even in a red zone. Everybody lets you go first at the stop signs. Nobody cuts you off. Even when every single table at California Chicken Cafe is full, somehow they find a seat for you.
We were about halfway through lunch when Doug’s radio announced that the demonstration at Little Santa Monica & Beverly Glen was turning ugly. When we heard the officers were putting on their riot gear, we packed up our lunches. I offered to take a cab back to my car, but Sergio said, “Oh no, you’re coming with us!” I didn’t know that was really an option. But it looked like I didn’t get a vote.
Driving through alleys at high speed in a police car is not nearly as much fun as it looks in the movies. When we got to the scene, we parked (on the sidewalk) with all the other black & whites. I stayed in the car while they went to meet the other officers. I watched everyone put on their helmets and take out their clubs. And get lined up. I wondered if the back seat of a police car was really the best place to be in a riot. I hoped the door locks worked. I really really wished I had brought my cell phone so I could call Paula and have her come pick me up (“Just look for the large, unruly crowd, and turn right…”).
After a few minutes, the police took off their helmets and started wandering back to their cars. Turns out the protesters had had enough and were on their buses leaving. I was pretty sure my friends Doug and Sergio would never put me in any actual danger–after all, I hadn’t given them the check for the charity yet! We went back to the station to finish our meeting. Somebody was leaving their job that day and there was strawberry trifle. Good thing, we never did get to finish lunch.
Paula later pointed out that that was the last day that all the digits of the date (11-19-1999) are odd this millennium. The next time this will happen is 1-1-3111. Makes sense, and you can feel good that the last odd day of your life is behind you. But the way MY life is going, I suspect there are many more odd days to come.
Copyright 1999 by Janine Smith. Not to be reproduced or distributed without permission