My home town - Los Angeles - does not have a reputation for friendliness.
I think this has more to do with geography than anything else. Our city came of age with the automobile. Yes, we have public transportation, but it is more trouble than it's worth in my far flung suburban neighborhood... and so we rely on our cars to get where we have to be.
That's one reason why we don't have a lot of pedestrian traffic — and consequently, there are few opportunities for folks to interact in public. We are self-contained in our own little automobile pods and tend to socialize only with the people we already know.
My teenage daughter was a baby when we moved into our home, so we've lived on our street for a long, long time. You would think I'd know my neighbors.
You would be wrong.
I do have a cordial relationship with the older couple living to the left of us, and the nice widow who lives to our right. But I've never met any of the families who live beyond our immediate next door neighbors. How could I? The only times I see them are when I drive past their homes... and notice that they're either getting in or out of their cars, too.
And that's pretty much when our neighbors see us, too.
This situation is starting to change — ever since last month, when we acquired a dog.
Mac loves going on walks through the neighborhood, and I'm finding that it forces me to get some much-needed exercise. Even better, I am getting to know some of the people who reside on our block. That's what I was doing at 6:30 in the morning, when I first met the stranger.
This in itself was odd; I don't usually run into other people that early — unless they are dashing into their cars so they can hit the 405 before the traffic gets really bad.
The other odd thing was that this man wasn't moving. He was just standing on the sidewalk, straddling a bicycle and fiddling with a backpack.
When I encounter a pedestrian on these walks, I usually stop so the other guy can pass us. You never know when someone you meet will have a fear of dogs. But since this man was stationary and I was almost home, I needed to go past him.Continued on the next page