Amelia Kanan

Writer + Photographer + Producer

Category: Things Strangers Say

Things Strangers Say: Eddie

“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” – HL

This is Eddie.

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He picked me up from LAX the other day and in the Lyft to my house, we talked.

In 2000, Eddie took in his nephew who had fallen into the foster care system. He enrolled the troubled teen into a boot camp with the LAPD for youth and when he began to see the positive results, he began volunteering there too.

“It’s the real life human being who makes the connections and ultimately makes the change.” That’s the kind of stuff Eddie says.

Due to funding, the program went away but with support from the LAPD and a judge, Eddie opened his own program which quickly eveolved into a security company with over 50 employees who specialized in conflict resolution. Rooted in building relationships, Eddie’s company tremendously decreased crime and improved behavioral issues in multiple LAUSD schools and a section 8 housing complex. Eddie and his crew were held in high regard by their clients, colleagues, students and residents.

Then a charter school moved in and populated the schools where Eddie had been for nearly 10 years. For the next year and a half, Eddie was the victim of workplace bullying and straight out sabotage. One of the charter school’s administrators poached 20 of Eddie’s employees and bad-mouthed Eddie current and potential clients. This led to the demise of Eddie’s success.

In that year and a half, Eddie also accumulated evidence that could prove misconduct but said he will not take legal action. What’s he going to gain other than more money lost, bitter tension, and damaging shame? As hard as Eddie could fight, the for-profit “school” will fight harder to protect their business.

“I’m mature enough to move on, but bullying is bullying and there needs to be more accountability so people are held responsible for their actions.”

Eddie is resilient and it’s his strong belief in his cause that gives him fuel to restart his company at square one.

When I asked him if he was nervous about this happening again, he responded, “There’s problems everywhere. A lot of schools have issues but they hire the wrong people. I’m trained in conflict resolution and have results that show its success with youth.”

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Things Strangers Say: Gym (B)Rats

Returning to the parking garage, two 40-something women walked up to the valet’s desk and handed the man their ticket stubs.

“Fifteen dollah each,” he said with a Vietnamese accent.

“But it’s free parking for the first three hours,” the woman with electric blue Fendi sunglasses snapped, with fry in her voice.

“Need validation,” he said.

“I come here all the time and this is never a problem. Where’s Carlos?”

“Carlos not here today.”

“You gave us these tickets an hour ago,” the other woman, in a hot pink trucker hat, spouted off. Gesturing to her lulu gear, she continued, “Clearly, we were at the gym. The only gym here and you know they validate.”

“Rules are validation only,” the man said without looking at them and kept busy with a stack of papers.

Fendi was pissed.

“But that means we have to go all the way back, up two escalators and into the gym just to get a stupid, little stamp.”

Hot Pink Trucker honed in on logistics, “It’s not even an electronic system – so it doesn’t need to be scanned. You’re just making this difficult for no reason.”

Almost smiling, Fendi spoke slowly, accentuating her fry, “Right. So, do you understand how your validation process is pointless?”

A full minute passed as the grown women stared in silence at the valet, who hadn’t abandoned his paperwork diversion ploy.

Hot Pink Trucker wasn’t having it, “Excuse me, we’re asking you a question. Are you unable to provide an answer?”

“He probably doesn’t understand, he can barely speak English.”

“Do you have a manager we can speak to?”

“Yes. Me,” the man looked Hot Pint Trucker dead in the eyes.

“Let’s just report him to the gym. We pay too much money to be treated like this,” surrendering her fight, Fendi initiated the walk away.

While going back up the two escalators and into the gym, an older man brought his stamped ticket to the valet. In exchange, the valet beamed a warm smile and a hearty thank you before the customer walked to his car.

The women returned, hushed. Hot Pink Trucker threw her stamped piece of paper in the general direction of the valet. He struggled to bend to the ground where the ticket landed.

Glaring from above, Fendi placed her ticket on the desk and said, “You’re rude and ungrateful for the position you’ve been allowed.”

Upon their final exit and unaware of the situation, the older man drove up, got out of his car, and handed the valet a fifty-dollar bill.

He thanked the valet for his smile and said, “It comforts me to know there are good people living in this world. Happy holidays, sir.”

Things Strangers Say: Girl with Bangs

“You are so beautiful.”

My stupid mouth. It just speaks on it’s own.

She looks embarrassed, “Oh, no. I wore this hat because I haven’t washed my hair in days.”

Great. Now I have to prove it to her.

“If I wore a hat like that, I would look like a teenage Mexican boy.”

I hope she’s not Mexican…

She laughs.

Good.

She tells me, “You’re hair is so long and beautiful. And that color. Is it dyed?”

Clearly, she felt obligated to return the compliment.

“Oh, thanks. No, this is the color.”

I hate the color of my hair. It’s same the color your poop is if you have too much iron in your blood.

This conversation needs to end.

I don’t like her face anymore.

I smile and put my ear buds back in and turn my eyes are back to my screen.

Maybe that’s why my mouth is so uncontrollable.

My voice gets cabin fever.

Oh, god. She’s saying something –

“What’s your name?”

“Amelia”

She tells me her name and I don’t care but I still remember it’s Susan.

I always liked that name.

I wish I could call her Suzie.

She wouldn’t like that though.

I can tell.

She has bangs.

And not the cool kind.

The kind that make someone look uptight.

She asks if I live around there.

“Yes, on Alfred.”

She had just moved to the neighborhood and so did I.

We’re the same age.

She asks, “Want to be friends?”

She thinks she’s being cute because she saw Kate Hudson say that in a movie once.

“Totally.”

I tell her that I don’t have any friends.

That’s a lie.

I have a lot of friends.

Sometimes I feel like I have too many friends.

I start feeling guilty.

I hate that strangers assume I’m a good person because I’m plumper than average.

And polite.

We exchange numbers and I put my ear buds back in for the second time.

I feel bad – judging her and lying to her.

“I’m sorry, I have a deadline and I really need to focus but call me anytime!”

There is no deadline.

I’m writing about her and her bangs.

Things Strangers Say: The Trainer

He leaned towards me.

Was he saying something?

He ‘s too pretty – I was nervous.

I took the buds out of my ears.

“I’m sorry, were you talking to me?”

He said, “Yeah, I wanted to tell you that I think you’re beautiful”

“Oh, thank y-”

He cut me off.

He said, “Let me finish”

“Alright…”

He continued, “You’re doing yourself a disservice by being overweight.”

Hmm…

Ok.

I didn’t feel…upset.

Oddly, I felt kind of good.

“It’s how I protect myself from men like you.”

He laughed.

I knew exactly who this guy was.

He loved who he saw in the mirror but hated all the shit he couldn’t see.

He asked, “What do you do?”

That’s when I got annoyed.

I hate when people ask me that.

If I felt like being honest,

I would say, “I write and produce films and commercials”

But, this guy didn’t deserve my honesty.

And I really wanted to get back to my work.

“I do a lot of things.”

He thought I was trying to be cute and laughed.

I was confused.

“Has this been your fucked up attempt to start a conversation with me?”

With the most serious face, he said, “I’m a trainer.”

“Cool.”

God damn.

Everyone is a fucking ‘trainer’, these days.

He said, “I train professional athletes.”

Oh no.

Did he see my internal eye roll?

I was probably doing that thing with my eyebrows.

Scolding.

I felt bad.

“Are you from here?”

He said, “I grew up in Iowa.”

Mmm hmmm.

Small town boy.

Never fit in.

Moved to the big city.

Needing to prove himself to all those kids who had teased him.

Ugh.

I hated myself.

I’m a bitch.

Assuming all that.

He asked, “Where are you from?”

Another question I hate.

“Lots of places.”

Again, he thought I was being playful.

Maybe I was…

Actually, no…I’m wasn’t.

He’s too pretty.

He should grow a beard.

I really wanted to get back to my work.

He asked, “What do you do for physical activity?”

Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

“I don’t know…”

He asked, “Have you ever thought about interval training?”

Uhh.

Yeah, bro.

I’ve done it.

I know all about your fucking intervals.

Little do you know how much I love to fucking sweat.

But, guess what?

I don’t want to right now.

Right now, I want to drink my dirty martini and zone the fuck out.

I smile, with pity written all over my face.

“I have never thought about interval training.”

After another hour

and another dirty martini

(that he bought)

we made out in the parking lot.

He said, “I’d be willing to work with you on shedding your shield.”

Two days later,

he texted me. “Bootcamp – tomorrow/7am?”

And that is how,

every true love story,

begins.