Make no mistake: Police were called in this morning at 11:08 a.m. after someone found a suspicious device at the Salvation Army on the 1500 block of Valencia Street. But by 1:30 p.m., a special squad decided it was safe.
Until then, traffic was blocked from 26th to Cesar Chavez streets and from San Jose Avenue to Valencia.
While police worked to figure out what was going on, the crowd on my side of the tape offered an entertaining sideshow.
First came the guys who had strolled down the street from Clooney’s bar. They had evolved their own story about what was happening inside, which included a box full of unexploded WWII hand grenades that had come in as part of an estate donation.
Another bystander, really worried, called the police officer over. Unfortunately, there was a language gap. Finally another guy said, “He is worried about his cart.”
“Oh, I understand,” the officer said, and quickly turned to fetch the guy’s shopping cart, filled with a good day’s plunder of bottles. The cart’s owner was more relieved than a father who’s found a lost child.
The best exchange happened when a middle-aged couple rushed up with cameras at the ready. They asked the same officer, “Who’s in it?”
“Excuse me?” the officer replied.
“They’re making a movie, aren’t they?” one of the duo asked.
“No, they’re actually inspecting some suspicious items,” the officer said.
The couple clutched each other in excitement. The real thing always beats Hollywood.
Then the officer walked over to me and asked, “You just visiting?”
“No, I live around the corner,” I replied. To which she politely said, “With all the pictures, I assumed you were a tourist.”
My journalistic bubble was popped. I excused myself and went to Old Jerusalem for one of their awesome falafel sandwiches and a cup of mint tea.