Yesterday, I joined a handful of animation peers for a 15-mile bike ride. We met at Union Station and rode to Burbank by way of the LA River Bike Path. Halfway up the bike path, one of our crew decided to pull into a resting stop called Marsh Park. It's basically a small patch of dirt with a giant rattlesnake sculpture, one bench, one broken waterfountain...and one shady dude. The shady dude eyed us as we gathered around the rattlesnake for a picture. I had been taking a photo of a sign, so I was the last person to pass him. He asked, "Are you guys cops?"
Are we cops?? You mean you can't tell we're animators with our pasty skin, ungroomed hair, and silly cartoon t-shirts? I replied, "Heh...no," and looked over at my group. They were parking their bikes and making silly poses with the snake. Apparently, no one had heard this guy's question. I joined the group, trying to accelerate the picture-taking process. While we were posing, the stranger started getting nervous. He paced around the dirt, peering at his cell phone every few seconds. Eventually he had the phone to his ear, but I didn't actually see him talking.
Did someone call him or was he pretending to be occupied? Or maybe he was contacting someone. Maybe he was contacting a bunch of people. With guns. To shoot us. In the face.
Okay...I admit that I can be a bit paranoid, but "Are you cops?" is not the first question you usually ask someone. With our photo now taken, we all mounted our bikes and rolled back onto the bike path, allowing the man to be shady in private once again.