Leaning-In Here in LA

As I ran errands around the neighborhood today I couldn’t help but note that everywhere I went – to Box Brothers for packing materials for eBay sales, Pavilions for a few groceries, BOA to deposit checks – that people were especially friendly. An older man at Box Brothers told me all about the exceptional clam chowder he’d just eaten at a nearby restaurant; a middle-aged man in line at Pavilions teased me about being “height-challenged,” then pointed out the next open register at self check-out; a young man at the bank flashed a big smile when I apologized for bringing my dogs inside despite the sign on the front door since we have a new rescue who couldn’t be trusted outside unattended.  He assured me it wasn’t a problem and then handled my business transition in less than a minute.

We are talking LA here, my friends, which on many a day is not the warmest place on earth. People are generally not openly rude, but simply too busy looking at their phones to engage in conversation. For a second I thought I was back in Texas, particularly with the fellow at the grocery store – the “market” in LA parlance. I actually thought I detected a Southern accent, which might explain at least in part his friendliness. But the real question is, “What is going on?”

I think the answer is obvious. We are all on high alert given the events of the past few days and have decided we need to act a bit more neighborly towards our fellow humans. After all, we live in a city that could easily be a target and perhaps even an area of the city that is more likely to attract unwanted attention. In fact, today’s morning traffic was blocked up on Sunset for miles because of a bomb threat on Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Heights, and last night when returning from my ceramics class in Hollywood, I pulled over for literally 12 police vehicles that were racing off to some location between Santa Monica and Hollywood Boulevards. I could see the red lights flashing everywhere as police blocked the streets. I haven’t learned what happened, but clearly it was more than an auto accident.

I would like to think we Angelenos are all just happy that the hot weather has finally broken, the gale force winds have calmed down and the smell of autumn is in the air. However, I truly believe it is more than that. I believe we have recently been reminded on several counts of just how fragile “normal” life can be and, as a result, are feeling compelled to make a few more human connections than usual.

That’s my theory anyway.

What I do know is that it is a welcome change. A little shared humanity never hurt a soul. In fact, it might just make all this added tension a bit more bearable.

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