By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD
I mentioned that I worked more movie premieres than Siskel and Ebert. All of them off duty—we needed the extra money to feed our growing kids and make sure they dressed in the latest clothes approved by their peers. It made for a long day but I liked meeting the tourists who were enjoying Hollywood for the first time. I loved asking where they were from and what their plans were for the rest of their trip. I laughed when one couple said they were going to Knott’s Berry Farm in the morning and Disneyland in the afternoon. I don’t know if they took my advice when I told them that each of those parks took an entire day.
I was working a premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. My favorite assignment was working the crowd behind the barricades. I wasn’t much of a movie star fan; I found most of them phony and pretty much into themselves. I sometimes would watch them turn the charm on and off when the cameras came on. I once saw a big star compliment another star on her gown, then turn away and stick her finger into her mouth as if to gag!
So I’m working this movie premiere and counting the hours until I can get off my feet. A young couple with 2 preteen-age kids approach me. With a Midwest accent ask, “Officer, do you know a good cheap place to get some hamburgers. We went to Hamburger Hamlet across the street but found it was over our budget.”
“Of course.” I asked where they were from and we exchanged stories of what to see and what was a waste of money. I was kind of a Hollywood Ambassador, right behind Johnny Grant!
I then advised them the best hamburger in California was a mere 2 ½ blocks away. I directed them to walk down Orange Drive to the corner of Sunset and Orange. Yea, that’s right—In & Out Hamburgers. I suggested a Double/Double with grilled onions. They thanked me and walked away. I expected to never see them again.
An hour and a half later I hear a voice coming from the crowd, “Oh, Officer. Oh, officer!”
I turn around and there’s that Midwest couple. They waved me over and of course I’m very community minded. I know they have no power to vote on my next pay raise, so I walk up to them.
The mother was the spokesperson for the family and she wanted to thank me for the great advice. She said that In & Out was the best hamburger they ever had. She wanted to film me recommending In & Out to her friends back home. I declined stating that I felt like a dope pusher, knowing full well that they can’t get another In & Out Double/Double Hamburger where they lived.
To this day I hear from former LAPD cops who have moved out of state and when in Southern California the first place they eat at is In & Out. (See picture,) eat your heart out! I imagine somewhere in the Midwest, there’s a couple telling their grandkids about the best hamburger they ever ate, way out in California.