I could just say nothing. But I’ll say something.
The chips and watery salsa were adequate for a busy Saturday morning, I was headed next door to the Big Saver for my regular allotment of not-so-premium vegetables. I’d been meaning to try this place for ages, but they were always out of breakfast and they close around 5-6pm. But this time I got lucky there in time.
The place has the aura of a drinking establishment, in that we-drink-more-than-we-eat sorta way, kinda like Corita’s used to have back in their Malverde phase. I actually like those type of places, but I knew right after my plate arrived that this would be filed into that large collection of HR posts that I’ll never publish because (A) they suck but not bad enough, (B) they’re okay but just too boring or (C) nothing interesting happened that’s worth mentioning. Trust me, Dear Reader, if you think this site bores you now just wait until I turn into a real blog and start making 30 posts a day full of nothing: I’d have to dip into my arsenal of mediocrity and you would hate me even more. This one was headed to that photo pit, but for this next encounter.
I started eating my food and jotting down ‘eh’ in my mental notebook when the meserita comes over to ask “todo esta bien?”
I reply “Si, gracias, todo bien”
I should have said “No! You pedÃ unos Huevos Rancheros, no esta porqueria de huevos cocidos, queso gringo, y salsa de espaghetti. Â¿Porque no le dice al cocinero que me prepare algo que parezca comida, si seria tan amable?”
But I’m a nice guy, back to my forgettable meal. And then she asks (in Spanish, but I’m gonna stick to an English dialogue) “they told me that you took a picture of the food, is that true?”
“Uh, yeah.” I’m usually pretty slick with my lil’ camera cuz I know it freaks people out, something outsiders find hard to understand. Now it turns out I have to be careful of other people eating as well. Fucking ratas.
“Why did you take a picture? Is there something wrong with the food?”
“No, the food is fine (ha,ha!) I just like taking pictures of my food, I do it all the time.”
She persisted. “But why did you take a picture? I don’t understand why you would take a picture of the food.”
“It’s just something I do. There’s nothing wrong with the food, I just like taking pictures. Don’t worry, I’m not an inspector or anything, these pictures are just for me.”
“I’m not worried because there’s nothing wrong with this place. But I don’t see why you have to take pictures.”
At this point, I started to lose my patience and I can’t remember exactly what we said to each other but it wasn’t a pleasant exchange, especially since about 12 other people and one rata stopped eating and started watching as all this non-action unfolded. After I tersely asked “Pues que? Quiere ver las fotos, o que?” she backed down and semi-apologized. If the pic above looks unappetizing, imagine this plate after behind harassed by your waitress.
Though I think this particular situation was a bit out of hand, I still understand the wariness people have to cameras. If you’re taking pics at a festival or a party, everyone can accept that this special occasion might deserve some documentation. But pull out the camera in a moment of the mundane, and then shit just doesn’t make sense. I’ve had a woman question why I was taking a picture of her pretty fig tree. A cholo yelled at me from across the street for taking a pic of a neighbors satellite dish. The workers at Diego’s Tacos ran to catch up to me to find out why I was taking a pic of their Taquero Needed sign. Since I prefer to capture these insignificant visual moments, I always have some subterfuge at the ready, lest I be lumped into that shitty role of las autoridades.
As a general rule, cameras tend to be wielded by an authority figure that’s getting ready to make life just a bit more difficult. Since they’re usually aimed at something wrong, they tend to represent an intrusion, as they rarely focus in on the aspects of the neighborhood that could benefit from just a touch more light. The sense of appreciation and delight at some ostensibly meaningless moment is going to be learned as it’s being taught. That’s where my pendejadas come in, jaja!
At the very least, I can qualify this as a harsh experience for the waitress of the world that’s heading her way: the increasing accessibility of digital cameras means that hopefully the next lens in her eatery is going to reflect an image of which she might approve. But I don’t think my camera has any plans for another visit.
Near the Big Saver on Ave 26 and Figueroa.
You find it!