By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD
I use to eat at a little coffee shop, Angels Café, just east of Western and Hollywood Boulevard. It was tucked in the corner of the Vagabond Motel and had about six booths and counter seating. Angel was the cook and took good care of us cops. Most of the customers were tourists staying at the motel.
As we walked in we took the usual notice of the customers already dining. This morning we noticed a rather unkempt gentlemen seated at the counter. He wasn‘t wearing shoes or socks. As the waitress brought us our coffee, I inquired what he had to eat. She replied steak and eggs, the most expensive item on the menu. That is usually the meal of choice for homeless people who can’t pay. Eat good, then go to jail.
Oh crap! You guessed it he had no money. We arrested him for defrauding the inn keeper and missed our code-7. Didn’t even get to drink our coffee.
Ok, another interrupted code-7 at Angels Café. Hollywood and Western was a real armpit at the time. I once had a lieutenant describe Hollywood and Western as, “If God was to give Hollywood an enema he’d lay the hose at Hollywood and Western!”
Did you ever have one of those days where nothing went right and you didn’t want to be bothered? Well, I was having one of those days. I got OK code-7 and sat in the booth at the back of the café. I was served my coffee when this homeless man appears at the window. We were only separated by the glass. He stares down at me for minutes. I’m served my breakfast and he watches every bite I take. He’s only inches from my face and food.
The rest of the customers noticed and are watching me for my reaction. Soon these alligator tears are streaming down his face. I’m losing my appetite and I can fill my blood pressure rise. I can hear the comments for the other customers. Some have sympathy for me others for the homeless man.
The homeless man then walks to the café door and enters. I’m wondering why I didn’t bring my nightstick with me. The man goes to the cash register and asks for change. He exits and walks up to the news rack.
The whole café is now watching this man and me. Angel, the cook, has even stopped cooking. The homeless man puts coins in the news rack and attempts to lift the rack. It took his money but didn’t give him his paper. The customers all groan! He puts in more coins and the rack opens, he takes out the LA Times and reenters the café. He walks directly back to my booth. I tense. This can’t end up good. Everyone is watching me.
The homeless man hands me the paper and says, “Have a good day officer.” He turns and walks out the door and disappears. I give the paper to Angel, pay for my half eaten meal and disappear also.
Absolutely the last Code-7 Ramblings next.