Helicopters have been buzzing our neighborhood all day. The President was here, somewhere, lunching with patrons in a leafy neighborhood. Elsewhere, several people are dead, a gunman is in custody and several others are in hospitals with gunshot wounds - after a crime spree near Santa Monica College.
Last night I tweeted POTUS to lunch in Brentwood. Ho-hum. Just another day on the Westside.
Just another day, when terrified students dove under desks and scattered into the streets. Just another day, when a guy with a gun tried to hijack a couple of unsuspecting motorists. Just another day, when this same guy (presumably) set fire to a house and two people inside perished.
Our daughter called from Kansas. "Hey, I heard about the shooting at Santa Monica College. Are you guys okay?" We were. We had strolled to CVS to pick up a few items, then over to Chipotle on the Third Street Promenade for lunch. We ate outside, under the June gloom, with our dog Bella. Around us tourists mingled, unaware of the terror going down less than two miles away.
"I saw some firefighters standing around, chuckling, that's all," I overheard a woman say, who must have passed by the locked-down area.
Nope, you'd hardly know this was anything but a ho-hum Friday in Santa Monica. But we aren't callous. We have feelings and pray for the injured and their families and for the nerves of those unsuspecting college students.
"I'm worried about these helicopters," my wife just said.
"It's nothing. It's just for POTUS," I say. "They're giving his motorcade air cover."
Hell, what do I know? But I don't want her to worry.
Mary's on the phone with a friend in Montrose, telling her about the chaos.
Secretly (or not so secretly) I think we thrive on the excitement. Are our lives so mundane, so boring that it takes something like this to arouse our passions? I can only think of the Oklahoma tornadoes and the outpouring of sympathy and support. Deep down we are good people. We would venture into the teeth of a conflict to help our fellow woman and man. Look for the helpers, said Fred Rogers. We want to be one of those people, because somehow we feel more alive when we extend a hand to others.
Mary has turned on ABC7. They're all still doing wall-to-wall coverage. Police are still trying to sort out what happened. Neighbors are all too willing to talk about what they saw.
More people have texted or written to see if we are ok. Yes, we're fine. We are tucked away in our apartment several miles from the campus. But we know that area all too well. I get my car worked on over there. Nearby is a Mexican restaurant we like.
The reporter just said "this doesn't happen in Santa Monica" and "neighbors are shocked."
Just another day on the Westside.