The OC

Another SOC challenge from Linda


Today’s odd prompt was not a word or words. It was 2 letters. ‘O’and’C’.

This is a true story. It really happened. I swear. If you don’t believe me then go see for yourself. I think it happens every day.

I was staying at Newport beach a little while ago with some time on my hands and I wanted to investigate a new Bose sound system and pretend that I could afford to buy it. Newport Beach is located in Orange County, California, within the United States of America.

Orange County. The OC.

I wandered across the road from where I was staying to a smallish ( by Californian standards) shopping mall to investigate. The shopping mall was called Fashion Island. That name alone should have alerted me to the fact that I was venturing into foreign territory.

As I entered I discovered a large sign upon which was a list of the various shops within the complex together with grid-referenced information so that one could then discover the location of any shop relative to the position of the sign.

I couldn’t find the Bose store but as I was scanning the sign I noticed beside me an attractive middle-aged woman who was in similar difficulty. The two of us must have looked like a couple of aliens from different sides of the galaxy who had arrived simultaneously at the same bus depot and were wondering what to do next.

Just then a police officer appeared beside us. “Can I do anything for either of you lovely people?” he asked.

It was not the sort of question that I am accustomed to hearing from officers of the law and I was a little taken back, but the opportunity was there for me to allow the woman to speak first. So I did.

“Ah, yes,” she murmured, “Can you direct me to Victoria’s Secret?”.

I know it is juvenile, but any mention of shops entirely dedicated to women’s underwear bring upon me feelings mixed with mysterious excitement and embarrassment. I avoided eye contact with her. Why, I wondered, amongst all these shops, on this day, standing beside me, did she have to ask about that one? But then I glanced over to sneak a look at her and realised that, in this strange new universe, she was preordained to ask for that very shop.. Nevertheless I wondered if the two of them may have been speaking in code.

The police officer smiled and took one step forward to where he could point directly at the lingerie displayed in a nearby window. “Why, ma’am”, he announced triumphantly, “it’s just there.”

She turned her head and looked at it. “Ahhh,”she said, “yes,” and then pointed in the opposite direction, “but my car is over there.”

“In the car park?”
“Yes. In the car park.”
“Well,” the police officer continued helpfully, “you could walk over to Victoria’s Secret, get what you need and then walk back to your car.”
“Yes, but my car is over there.”
“And Victoria’s Secret”, he pointed again, “Is over there, fifty feet away.”
“Can you drive there?”

If the police officer was frustrated at all then he wasn’t showing it. He thought about her question. “Well,” he offered, “you could go back to your car, drive out of the car park, turn right, join the highway, keep following it till you see a 7-Eleven where you turn right again, and that will bring you into another car park around behind us here and if you go right over to the west side of that car park and go as far forward as you can then you should be able to see the back of Victoria’s Secret. Which, as I say, is just over ….”

“Good,” she said, “thank you. I think I’ll drive.” And she was gone.

When he turned to me I expected us to share a moment of misogynistic mirth, but his face was unchanged. I wondered, for a moment, if I may have been in the company of an android.

“And what can I do for you, Sir?” he smiled.
“I’m looking for the Bose shop.”
“Well, Sir. That’s a bit trickier. It’s on a different level altogether and I think it might be best if we take the escalator just over here to our left. I’ll walk you there.”

And he did.

As we were nearing our destination I turned to him. “Let me get this straight,” I said, “you’re a police officer, right?”
“Yes, Sir.”
“With a gun.”
“Yes, Sir. A generation 4 .45 caliber Glock 21.”
“Don’t you have anything more important to do than guide silly old men around shopping malls?”

He smiled at me again. “Sir,” he explained, “this is the OC. This is Orange County. If we see a car on the road here that’s more than 4 years old we pull it over. Apart from that it’s quiet. It’s been a pleasure meeting you.”


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