I pondered the prospect, then suggested reviewing the possibility after the detour.
The sleepy polar bear demonstrated some degree of difficulty slipping into the closest street parking spot, though we managed in the end, with one wheel on the ice, like every other vehicle in the lane.
Out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of a lever. Rosso Inglewood carried cold brew on tap too! Curious but conservative, I would refuse a second cup of coffee within a two-hour window, especially after 5 PM.
Unlike the 17 Ave location, Inglewood's lavatories did not require a key for access. Two compact stalls were found behind the drink preparation area. They were dimly lit and not very pristine, with an overflowing wastebin reflective of high traffic volumes.
The store was a wealth of local craft beers. With the assistance of a nearby staff member, I received a number of recommendations to suit my palate.
- Alley Kat Brewing's The Mangolorian Mango Ale, a mango-flavoured wheat ale
- Ol'Beautiful Brewing's Okami Kasu Japanese Ale, a funky lager with traces of sake kasu
- Makku, a small batch producer of makgeolli hailing from New York
"May I bother you for a moment?" She cooed.
"Yes." I turned to her and responded in my default work tone, though my brows furrowed, anxious that she would ask us, non-locals, for directions.
"I like your purple jacket." She commented before continuing onto her main story. It began with an immense number of unnecessary details, easing into how "someone ran away" with her rent money. "I know it sounds ridiculous, but my rent is $125 and I'm just $25 short of $125."
My gaze softened at the mention of money, not because I was growing soft-hearted towards her sap story, but because I was certain of her motive. Bracing myself for her evidence-less request for money, I began to scan the woman up and down for signs of homelessness. Her faux leather red handbag appeared in decent condition; her nails didn't seem very filthy, but her fingertips were dark. Surely enough, the appeal for cash was uttered.
The sleepy polar bear turned to me, as if asking for permission. I casually, and blatantly, announced that we did not have any, then grabbed my companion's arm. "We also gotta go." Spinning on my heel, I didn't turn back until we were a good distance away. When I peeked over my shoulder, the lady, too, had turned away. It was with a sigh of relief that the rejection hadn't been met with physical aggression.
"Maybe. I'm in a good mood today." came the foolish response.
"Why?!" My tone spiked. "You don't even know if she's telling the truth."
"She could be."
"She could be, but how would you know?" The retorts came with swiftness. "If you want to donate, then do it through the proper channel, like my cookie box. How do you know she's not going to use it for something else?"
"Twenty-five dollars isn't a lot."
"Not a lot?! Twenty-five dollars is a lot!" I recalled the petty complaints towards winter tires and Uber fares. "Twenty-five dollars here, twenty-five dollars there - this lady could make hundreds just by scamming people by talking, and you'd fall for it! If you have an extra twenty-five, why not spend it on something you want? Or spend it on me, or your friends, or your mom."
Before I could continue, both of us spotted the lady at the corner of 9 Ave and 11 St, making hand gestures and begging for sympathy from another group who had been talked into wasting several minutes of their lives.
"Point proven." I turned to the sleepy polar bear with a knowing, squinty-eyed stare.
Vero Bistro had been the sole itinerary item not planned by me. The restaurant was small but beautiful, with a curtained entrance and flickering, delicate string lights dangling from the ceiling. Reflective edges within restaurant made it seem larger than it actually was. It was absolutely bustling on a Saturday evening, its demographic based primarily of elderly people dressed in a sophisticated manner happily chatting away.
The server returned to deliver splendid news: There were no tables available until 8:30 PM, approximately 105 minutes later. Joyously, I exited the premises and declared our closest alternative: Tuk Tuk Thai.
My own Swimmer Rama with Chicken and Coconut Rice was passable. The coconut rice did not retain coconutty aromas at all, however its short-grain, non-glutinous properties did pair nicely with peanut sauce. The dish tasted akin to a mild Khao Soi, creamy with bits of chicken, neither tender nor overdone.