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.

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.

Waiting for the Optician (or someone like him)

Friedman Optical, Culver City. March 2014

When I was working full time for a major post-production facility, one of the benefits was full medical insurance including optical. The photo is of the last time I visited this optician with my insurance for my free eye exam and pair of glasses. With the loss of my ‘vision’ insurance, I now see an ophthalmologist for my eye-care needs which is covered by my current medical insurance. I buy the glasses and the packs of contacts at Costco.

I began wearing glasses at age 10 when I realized that by squinting, the writing on the blackboard at school became clearer. In high school I sported old fashioned wire rimmed spectacles with rose-tinted lenses. I looked like a cross between Jerry Garcia and John Lenon. Later I graduated to soft contact lenses which gave me my peripheral vision back, it was nearly as much a revelation as when I put on glasses for the first time and the world snapped into clear focus.

For the past many years I have worn “disposable” lenses which advertise the ability to sleep with them in. One of the things I hated about contact lenses, in fact the only downside, is having to take them out and fuss with them. In the early days, we would have to remove them nightly, put them into a special appliance and disinfect them by heating. What a royal pain.

Now, with this latest breakthrough in optical science, I could go for weeks without having to touch them; my ophthalmologist was horrified to learn that. She has gradually convinced me to take them out every couple of days to clean and disinfect with a new all-in-one solution. No heat necessary.


Rite Aid Pharmacy

Two different stores. Two different cities. Two different dates. Same furniture. Rite Aid was Jake’s pharmacy of choice. He was staying in San Juan Capistrano in August, and moved to Palm Springs in September. I had the good fortune to accompany him in both locations for the med run. Not much else to say other than they were both clean, well-lit, gave you an opportunity to check your blood pressure while waiting, and both very un-crowded. By this time of the year, between all our family members, we had exceeded our out of pocket expense limit, so the meds were free for several months. Thanks Blue Shield, we got our money’s worth that year.

Beyond Bed and Bath

Bed Bath and Beyond, West LA. July 2013

This store is packed. Jammed with millions of things. Things for every room in your house.  It’s huge, two floors packed with every kind of gadget, linen, kitchen thing, bathroom thing, heaters, fans, rugs, food, cosmetics, towels, baby stuff, lightbulbs, pots and pans, dishes, wine, beer – it’s overwhelming. This is the customer service line and is usually jammed with folks returning some of the stuff they bought and don’t need or want. The thing that caught my eye about this photo is the complexity of the image, the fact that this “waiting area” is lined with impulse food buys, and the politeness of the sign. (Just in case you didn’t know what those black stanchions and fabric ropes were for.) So while you are waiting to return that throw rug that is absolutely the wrong color, you can snack on some chips or pistachios, or any of the other junk food available within arm’s reach. Just out of frame on the right side, on the top of one of those stanchions is a large plastic bowl filled with lollypops; in case you were going into a sudden hypoglycemic attack. We were there buying some sort of thing or other; I find myself in this store every couple of months or so. At least they have things to taste and a pretty good selection of beer.