The Automatic Door

Medical Building, Santa Monica. November 2014

These chairs are just inside the entrance of a medical building in Santa Monica. No doctor’s waiting room, no medical offices, just the hallway to the elevator lobby. Nothing really to wait for, and yet there they are. I guess if you are exhausted from the 6 step climb from the street and need to take a breather before venturing down the hallway, this is for you. Or if you need to catch the bus and don’t want to wait on the street these are more comfy than the hard metal bench. I dunno, but I liked the reflections and the motion blur of the door as it closes.


Stock Lumber

Stock Lumber, Los Angeles. November 2014

I love lumber yards and hardware stores. As an inveterate tool user, they are storehouses of the most wonderful inventions. Vice grips. Zip ties. Socket sets. Power tools. Bins full of nuts and bolts and screws and washers. The smell of a lumber yard, that resin-y pine-y aroma of freshly cut plywood, always makes me want to build something. Long ago, I was a woodworker, and the sight of a clear Douglas fir 1 x 12, or a nice piece of oak molding, brings back mostly fond memories.

I usually find myself in a hardware store about once a month, lumber yards less frequently now. Any home improvement project I undertake, be it a simple faucet repair, replacing a screen door roller, or anything more ambitious, always starts with a trip to Lincoln Hardware, Stock Lumber or the dreaded Home Depot. Most projects aren’t complete without at least three trips. One before and two during to secure a forgotten tool, part, or the correct size of whatever. It’s just one of those immutable laws of life.

I took a few pictures of this waiting line before the gentleman in the background pulled his pickup into the doorway. He is waiting for one of the yard rats to bring his purchase around. I was there shopping for windows, and I think I bought some small tool or other just because I can’t resist. I probably have 6 of those 4-way screwdrivers, one for every tool box I own. Can’t have too many tools. I didn’t buy any windows.


Guest Post – UCLA Health

UCLA Health. April 2016 ©2016 Marty Mullin

I received this photo in my email today from a friend. A talented Director of Photography I have known for years. It speaks for itself. I didn’t convert into black and white because I love the 70’s avocado green of the couch. He didn’t send any other information along with the picture.

It has always been my hope that others begin to participate in the Waiting Room Project, that’s why I call it a project – an ongoing documentation of these ‘non-places’ and by extension, the documentation of our lives.

Thank you Marty, you are the very first guest poster. I have had others send me photos and I will scour my emails to find them and share.

Dr. Bob

Chiropractor, Los Angeles. November 2014

I have been to many chiropractors over the years. The best was Dr. Lowell Cripe, more than 30 years ago. He was a huge bear of a man with the most gentle hands. He would touch your spine with eyes closed, feeling for any out of place vertebrae. Then he would wrap you up and … crack, you were miraculously straightened. He was a true healer. Sadly, he passed away and his partner took over the practice. Dr. B__ wasn’t nearly as good and we moved on.

Chiropractors came and went, some effective, some less so. Several years ago, we found Dr. Bob in Santa Monica. He is also a healer, and big enough to apply sufficient torque to my stiff and reluctant spine to move it. Dr. Bob was struck by lightning a few years ago while on the beach, and initially was pronounced dead. His daughter brought him back to life with CPR, and after several  months recuperation, he was back at work. He favors Hawaiian shirts (as do I) and usually can put me back together.

His waiting room has the usual assortment of magazines along with several Gary Larsen books and a few other publications of similarly twisted humor. It makes the short wait go by quickly. Fortunately, I haven’t had to visit Dr. Bob for many months.


At the Accountant’s

Parking Garage, Hollywood. November 2014

I love my accountant. I know that may be an odd thing to say, but I love my accountant. He has been our CPA and financial advisor for more than 15 years and has saved me many tens of thousands of dollars. All totally legally. We went through three previous CPAs to find him; he was recommended by a bookkeeper we had for our dailies business. Once we found Al, we never looked back. He revamped our business structure and even though we had much the same revenue, we kept far, far more of it. That is the true measure of success – it’s not how much money you make, it’s how much you keep.

His office is in a building at the head of the Sunset Strip just east of Beverly Hills. I visit him once a year to meet with him about our taxes. I spend an hour in his office while he looks over the pile of documents I have collected. His fingers fly over his calculator, he makes hasty, cryptic notes on his pile of documents and ten minutes later, he gives me the good news. It’s always good news. The rest of the time, we visit, talk about future financial matters. You know, schmooze. Then he gives me even better news, he validates my parking. I head down to the garage to collect my car from the complimentary valet, feed my little collection of magnetic cards into the parcoa gate and I’m on my way home. Not sure what the little statues mean, but I know what the chairs are for.

20th Century Fox

Fox Studios, West Los Angeles. November 2014

In 2013 I was laid off from a job with a major post-production facility in Burbank. It was my first “real” job in decades. Prior to that I had run my own business and before that worked freelance in the film industry as a camera assistant, operator, and director of photography. A friend who worked at Fox recommended me for a post-production supervisor position and I went there one afternoon for the interview.

Fox studios in Los Angeles is just west of Century City, so named because much of it sits on what was once the 20th Century Fox back lot. This lobby is in the main office tower. I surreptitiously snapped this picture while I waited for my escort to the building on the lot where I would meet my potential supervisors. Cameras are universally discouraged at  motion picture studios. Too much opportunity for piracy. Of course Fox News was playing on one of the TVs.

The interview went, I thought at the time, fabulously well. I got along with the two interviewers, my experience and expertise seemed to dovetail perfectly with what they were looking for, my friend had put in a good word for me, and we parted with words of encouragement from them. I thought it was in the bag.

I didn’t get the job. So it goes.

Howard Industries

Howard Industries, Culver City. June 2014

Howard is a huge HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) supplier. They also have innumerable replacement parts, tools, and supplies for that industry. I was there getting a new thermocouple for our 30 year-old gas wall heater. The thermocouple, also called a pilot generator, is a little gizmo that sits in the flame of the pilot light in your furnace or heater and tells the main valve it is okay to open. If the pilot goes out, the main valve won’t open so you don’t die of asphyxiation or your house doesn’t accidentally blow up. Ours goes bad every 6 or 7 years and the pilot won’t stay lit. I have to trek to Culver City and take my place on one of these stools while I wait for my number to be called.

Our heaters are so old that they no longer manufacture the size of generator I need, but Howard, having been in business for so long, has a box full of the correct ones buried in the dim reaches of their warehouse. The last time I was there, I bought three of them just in case. Cheaper than having to replace the entire heater.

Even Kids Have to Wait

While most waiting areas are set up for adults, there are some which have made provision for children. Most notably in doctor’s offices or medical centers as children get sick too, or have to wait with their parents who may be there seeking medical advice. It has been many years since I was in a pediatrician’s waiting room, but I remember Jake’s doctor had an awesome one. Toys, books, things to climb on; they had put a lot of thought into furnishing it with stuff to keep kids occupied.

The bottom picture, however, is at the Pacific Division Station of the LAPD. It struck me significant in some way that there would be kid-sized chairs and tables and a Little Free Library specially for children in a police station. Obviously, enough children had come through there with parents to warrant this area by the door. You can see the ATM through the window should you need to get some quick cash to bail someone out – perhaps the parent of one of the kids who might sit in these chairs and read a book while mom or dad concluded whatever police business brought them there.

I was there inquiring about a handgun that had appeared on my back deck when we were on vacation one summer. J. our house-sitter phoned me in a bit of a panic to tell me she had found a chrome plated ‘Saturday night special’ just sitting on our deck the 4th of July.

gunApparently, some miscreant had been passing by and had tossed it over the fence. It was unloaded, had no magazine, and I told her to call the police. They came and collected it and informed her that if no one had claimed it within 90 days, I could keep it.

After the requisite three months, I went to the police station to check it out, and the amount of paperwork I had to fill out was staggering. The gun, a cheap, unreliable thing, wasn’t worth it, so I just let the cops destroy it.

Testing, 1, 2, 3

St. John’s Medical Center, Santa Monica. July 2014

I have a couple of health issues that require regular blood tests every year or so. Nothing serious, just routine monitoring. I usually just have the blood drawn at the doctor who is requesting the test, but for some reason, I had to go to St. John’s for this particular test. I don’t exactly recall what it was, but I found myself in the well-lit waiting room and discovered this photo. Yes, that’s the tip of my finger sneaking in the top left corner; darn iPhone and its microscopic camera. Some might say it ruins what would otherwise be a splendid work of art, a commentary on the philosophical aspect of waiting. I could spend an hour trying to Photoshop it out, or just leave it as an organic part of the image, a bit of authenticity. More a commentary on my fat fingers. I’ve been taking pictures for more than 50 years and still can’t keep my damn fingers away from the lens. So much to remember.