This morning, Sunday morning in LA, I stopped into a Starbucks for a morning coffee before embarking on a 50ml drive up the coast.
As I was leaving the store, heading back to my car, I passed a man sitting in a parked car. His window was rolled down and as I walked past, he looked up at me and said:
Drive carefully today.
His words were a shock. As I walked back to my car, I wondered:
Why did he say this to me?
How did he know I had a long and tricky drive ahead of me?
Why did he talk to me at all?
If he’d wanted to say something to me, why didn’t he just say: Good morning… ?
It was baffling.
I got to my car and told Jennifer, then grabbed my camera and went back to his car.
The man was fat – sorry, don’t mean to be mean, but he was fat. And he was unshaven. His car was old and cheap and dirty. The man looked up at me as I came back with my camera.
The conversation went something like this –
Me: Sir, would you mind if I took your photo?
Me: I think you could be an angel.
Him: I AM an angel.
Me: You are?
Him: But you can’t take my photo.
Me: Can I ask why not?
Him: They’ll kidnap me.
Him: I have a very famous daughter. She’s a singer. She’s very rich.
Me: Would I know her?
Him: They’ve already tried once before.
Me: Tried what?
Him: To kidnap me. They’ll want her to pay. They’ve already tried once.
Me: What happened?
Him: One of them ran at me. From across the street. But he was hit by a car.
Me: Was he killed?
Him: I don’t want you to sell the photo.
Me: I won’t sell it. I just want to put it up on my blog.
Him: You could sell it for a lot of money. My daughter’s a singer. She’s very rich.
Me: Yes, so you said.
(then, preparing to take the photo)
Me: Why did you tell me to drive carefully today?
Him: What did I say?
Me: You told me to drive carefully today.
Him: Did I? When?
Me: Just before. As I was walking past. (then) How did you know I’m about to start a long drive?
Him: You gotta drive carefully. You have to keep your doors locked. And the windows up.
Him: Otherwise they’ll try to kidnap you.
Me: I see. (then) And why did you say you were an angel?
Him: Did I? When?
Me: Just before.
Him: (playing with his cell phone) You should google my daughter. She’s famous. She’s a singer. She’s very rich.
(looking up at me)
Him: You’re not going to sell that photo are you?
As I drove away, I recounted the conversation with Jennifer. We agreed that I should drive carefully.
Just in case…