Sidewalk Ghosts / Introducing Dr. D

Hawaii flight on ground and legs back on Los Angeles soil, I took the Flyaway bus to Van Nuys. Then and now my usual airport strategy for getting home quickly, or so how it usually goes.

A quick account of how it went (in bullet points):

  • Slugged major amount of photo equipment and luggage through airport.
  • Waited hour and a half at the airport before even seeing bus (major suck).
  • Rejected by all the people I approached.
  • Shared thirty-minute bus ride with people who seemed to really dislike me.
  • Told myself the right person will emerge at the right time.
  • Gave up. Figured I’d meet a friend at the bus terminal.

They say timing is everything and that night the theory proved true. I arrived at the terminal, a little late, but finally home. My wife and daughter pulled up to grab me. I told them I had not yet photographed anyone. Off they drove, as with a tired gesture, they firmly instructed me to do something about it. Got to love a supportive family. I wondered how they would feel at day sixty but counted the blessings I had at the time.

There I was, A Ucayali bearing dad (the gift I bought for my daughter held under my arm), toting more equipment cases than a touring rock star. There was no way for me to get my gear to the car on my own, and after the disappearance of my family, I was on my own to manage it, thanks to the smiling harassment of my, now driving around the pick up zone, wife and daughter. So I enlisted the aid of skycap Dartanian.

As we loaded his cart we struck up a conversation, and as we chatted it was easy to notice his polite attitude and work ethic. But even though I was desperate for an interview, I thought not to approach him. One of my rules was to not bother people at work, and it seemed he was on shift.

I thanked him for his service, tipped the usual tip, and as he turned to walk away, off went the inner voice, saying, photograph him!”

I self argued it for a moment, justifying he was working, buses were still coming in and I needed to let him do his job.The voice got louder. I submitted to its influence.

Intently he listened as I laid out the project, without hesitation he was in, his shift just ended.

No joke, I did not question his schedule. It was weird, after unsuccessfully approaching people throughout that evening, in the blink of a second I was again in the right place with the right person. All I could reason was that somehow the voice knew he was ending his workday.

Looking back on all the rejections that day, even a harsh out of my face, straightforward and very aggressive “NO!” that I received on the bus, I could identify with a set of feelings that were starting to grow familiar.

Dartanian was very comfortable in front of the camera as I quickly captured a few spontaneous portraits. My family at that point, parked and settled in the car a few feet away they waited patiently. Although completely behind the project, it was apparent they were fading fast. A realization both Dartanian and I acknowledged, as with every look their way, we knew we were loosing them. Especially when the responses ceased as my wife’s heavy eyes began to drop.

I was impressed with Dartanian’s concern and asked what he was studying. He told me, “I’m in my senior year, studying psychology at Cal State Northridge,” going further in letting me know that he planned to go into family counseling. Who knew, perhaps we were a case study for him?

The clock struck 12am as we sat for a few final questions. His message, simple and short in words: Life is good!”

Talk tomorrow my good friends,


Readers, if you are returning, so nice to be with you again. If you are new, looking forward to getting to know you.

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