Leah and I had just moved to the L.A. area. It was during all that rain, not that that matters. I was taking advantage of the free WiFi at Burger King and at the local public library. We were living by our wits, everything was in Storage, and we were not sure anything would be working out at all, but we were “going for it” regardless.
The setting: a motel in Sherman Oaks, the 777 Motor Inn. At first glance it was not seedy. It was rather nice, with Christmas Wreaths on the doorways of the rooms. It was January. Maybe that was not such a great sign.
I need to do email to work. I was looking for fulltime employment or freelance or anything, and I was also scouting for places for us to live more permanently. It was taking longer than I would have hoped on both counts.
I was sitting in the “lobby” of the motel, a small room no more than 10 feet square. Pamphlets for Knott’s and Santa Barbara in one corner, a bureau with newspapers on it to my right. I sat in a cheap 4-legged chair at a teeny desk, checking my email.
Suddenly, a fellow begins talking to me. He has tattoos. He is talking fast and is clearly a tweeker. As he talks I can see he has a tongue piercing.
He asks me what I’m doing. I reply “email,” though he also looks over my shoulder to see a screenful of what clearly looks like an email inbox. I figure this is the end of the conversation, and I really don’t want to keep talking to this guy. So I put my head back in my email.
Mr. Tats then asks me what I do for a living; he’s clearly curious and wanting to conversate, and I am giving off every vibe I can to say, without addressing him, “I am doing my email and I do not want to talk to you. He asks me again. I cannot make him go away by will, so I reply, tersely, “web work.” Figuring then, that the situation needs more symmetry, I ask him what he does for a living.
The reply comes: “pornos.”
My reply: “oh.”
I return to my email, and now I’m really sure I am done talking with this fellow. He continues to jabber at me, and suddenly he wants to sell me a laptop. I politely tell him I really need to work on my email and it’s hard to concentrate when he’s talking to me.
He wanders off.
Reading it now, some 10 months later, it occurs to me that I could have skipped the uncomfortable moment where I found out what this San Fernando Valley idiot does for a living had I said to him, up front, that I can’t talk to him, as I am working on my email.
Of course, it might not have worked, but it’s fun to speculate.