Wednesday, December 14, 2016

More Adventures In Trumpland

More Adventures In Trumpland


- What happened to you?
- Picture me sitting outside Starbucks late tonight watching a movie on my computer when a Mercedes Benz drives up. Three tall college-aged guys get out, turn and look around themselves. I return to my movie, hear one of them say, 'He's an Uber driver,' and POW! something thick and wet explodes against my glasses, against the Starbucks window behind me rebounding to shower the back of my head and coat. I remove my glasses, stand up: the three young men are waiting, looking at me from three or four yards away. The same one says, 'I bet you didn't expect that!', and the three together, making a point of not running, get back in their car and drive away.
- Why did they do that?
- My guess is, as they assumed I was a driver, they also assumed I was a recent immigrant like most of the drivers in the neighborhood. One week my bike is stolen, the next I'm attacked.
- What was it they threw at you?
- Handfuls of raw eggs. Maybe a dozen total.
- Your forehead is cut.
- I know.
- And this in Beverly Hills.
- Our rich new president encourages violence. Why shouldn't the rich here be among the first to follow his lead?


- I'm having the strangest luck lately. This army jacket you see me wearing, now stained with egg front and back? I've had it a year and a half, bought it second hand in Westwood, took it with me to Thailand to see my half brother, to Croatia to stay with one of my readers, never had it cleaned, not until yesterday!
- How many hours was it clean?
- Two, three.
- Tell me about Beverly Hills. How is the city, really?
- You're not from here?
- No.
- How is the city, for me, or for the majority?
- For the majority.
- Beverly Hills is an enclave in the middle of Los Angeles where live and work thousands of people who voted for Trump thinking he'll help them make more money,* who at the same time won't admit to voting for him because he's not politically correct and political correctness is good for business.
- And Beverly Hills for you?
- I told you about my bike?
- It was stolen. That was in Beverly Hills too?
- Yes. I went to Police Headquarters, hidden at the end of a maze of walkways within the openly fake Renaissance-Deco addition to City Hall. The interior layout is a combination office building and bank, with lobbies, passages and stairs up to a room divided by a wall of windows over a counter. After a minute a policeman comes from the other side to the wall: they'd had to buzz me in from the main entrance downstairs so I was expected. I repeat what I said at the door: I am there about my stolen bike. The police officer says he will send someone out to talk with me. I sit down with a book. A couple minutes later two officers, a man and women, come out of a door off the lobby and approach me. I say hello, put down my book and stand. Neither man nor woman officer offers a return greeting. The policeman asks:
- Where was your bike stolen from?
- Starbucks, Wilshire and Santa Monica.
- When was it stolen?
- Five, Six days ago.
- Why didn't you come then?
- I didn't see anything you could do.
- Why are you here now then?
- The man who probably stole my bike was wearing a fez, a hat you don't see worn around here. I was at Starbucks this morning when a man came in wearing a fez. The uniform he was wearing bore a badge of the Peninsula Hotel** just across the street.
- Tell us what happened. What time? Where were you?
- Eleven thirty to twelve at night, sitting outside. The bike was a few yards away, leaning against railing of the terrace where I sat at a table with my computer. There was only one other person on the terrace. A couple times he turned around completely to look at me then immediately looked away. When I got up to go I found my bike was gone and the man with the fez gone.
- Did you see him take your bike?
- No. My attention was on the video I was watching.
- If you didn't see, you don't have the basis to make an accusation.
- I'm not making an accusation. I want you to investigate at the hotel, talk to the employees, see if the bike is there at wherever the employees are allowed to keep bikes. The hotel insists it is your responsibility and won't cooperate with me.
- Suppose we find the bike at the hotel. How do we know it is yours? Do you have a serial number?
- No. I bought the bike second hand. It is seventeen years old. I have the name, phone number and email of the student who sold me the bike.
- Does he have the serial number?
- I doubt it. But I know every scratch on the bike.
- Maybe you saw the bike earlier and saw the scratch.
- Hundreds of people in Beverly Hills have seen me with the bike. The people at Starbucks have.
- But if we take a report from you, you realize that this is a serious accusation you are making in a criminal matter?
- Yes. That is why I went to the hotel first and asked them to help.
- You went to the hotel. That was not necessary. What exactly do you want us to do if you don't want to file a complaint?
- Since you don't want to do anything I guess tomorrow when I'm at Starbucks when the police come in for their coffee as they do every day I'll ask them to go across the street with me to the hotel.
- You can call our non-emergency number and have officers meet you there.
- I'll do that.
- Where do you live? What is your exact address?
- Why do you ask?
- We're helping you so you should help us.
- But you're not helping me.
- Ok.
The conversation ends there. Man and woman police officers go out through the side door in the lobby. The next morning I return to the Peninsula Hotel.
- I was here yesterday.
- You were plainly told that this was a police matter. You came here, talked to us. There is no reason for you to come again here.
- If you want this to go away you're going to have to be more polite.
- I'm Chief of Service in Charge of Room Management.
- I have no idea what that means.
- I'm basically the manager of the hotel.
- And?
- I'm telling you what is hotel policy.
- What is the hotel's policy?
- We don't support accusations against our employees.
- I'm not accusing. I'm investigating. Yesterday you told me to get the police to investigate. I went to the police and they told me to come here and call them to meet me and they would with your cooperation look for the bike wherever employees usually put their bikes.
- Let me call our security director.... Hello, can you come here? Now. You, or send someone. Right now.
The house detective arrives.
- What is this about?
- I'm looking into the theft of my bike from across the street. The only person around at that time was wearing a fez, as many of your employees do. He disappeared at the same time as the bike.
- And what do you want from us? You should go to the police and make a report.
- I went to the police. They didn't want to take a report, suggested I go back, call their non-emergency number for officers to come, and they could go with you to look for the bike here in the hotel. I don't think this is necessary. You could look for the bike yourself.
- That is acceptable to you?
- Yes.
- You'll trust I'll look?
- I did before you asked me that question. Why would the hotel want to keep a stolen bike on its property?
- Is this your coffee? Take it. Wait outside. I'm going with another of our managers. He's going to look with me and be a witness. We'll be back in a minute.
No bikes were there. The detective promised to keep a look-out for my bike. I told him there was a chance he might see it because the night after the bike was stolen I was back at Starbucks at the same time, I hear a load ticking, and look up to see across the street a bike approaching, the rider wearing a fez, who seeing me immediately makes a sharp turn down the side street.
- What was the ticking?
- The sound of the gears disengaging when you're moving and stop peddling. It is unusually loud on my bike. The detective suggested I return to Starbucks same time every night to look for rider and bike again. I said I might.
- For others life in Beverly Hills is about waiting for the profits to roll in, for you it's about waiting for the return of a thief on your stolen bike.
- That's about it.


- If you want your bike back you'll have to agree not to use the bike in Beverly Hills. You can't let it be stolen again.
- What do you mean? Agree with who?
- I can get your bike back for you.
- How?
- I work for the police.
- But how can they get my bike back?
- I know who stole your bike.
- Who?
- A Filipino who works at the hotel. He's only been at the hotel six weeks. He rode your bike to work the first few days, but plans to sell it and buy another one he can ride. Your bike is too expensive.
- Too expensive for him to ride?
- Yes. It's worth $1500.
- How do you know that?
- I told you. I work for the police.
- But what are the chances of this? I decide to speak to you here in the middle of the night at the all night drug store because I see you late at Starbucks alone with your books and travelling bags and I wanted to warn you about being attacked... and you know all about my bike! You must have talked with them at the hotel.
- If you want your bike back give me a few days then go to the Beverly Hills Police Department, on Friday, twelve noon. They'll have your bike.
- They'll have my bike... This is hard to believe.
- If you want your bike, you'll go there.
- I'll go!

Further Reading:
The President's People
Dozing Off
* The majority of those making less than $50,000 a year voted for Clinton, while a majority of those making more than that voted for Trump. Almost two in three white men, 63 percent in all, voted for the far-right Republican candidate.
** Rooms from $575 /night.