Even though we worked a decade apart, it’s hard to imagine two more different security guards at the Shores than Charles Bennett and myself. During my 1-year tenure I worked the quiet 4 p.m. to midnight shift, which allowed me time to write what I had hoped would be “the great American novel.”
Sure enough, within eight months I had finished my book. “An Eight Pound, Six Ounce Lawyer,” was a humorous odyssey through the 1960s as seen through the eyes of a Jewish mother whose hippie son drops out of law school and hitchhikes across the country.
Among the many rejection letters, was one I took as high praise. It was from Random House and the last line read, “Very amusing, but do we really need another Woody Allen?” Apparently not.
Whereas mine was brief, Charles Bennett’s security guard career has lasted 27 years, 14 of which were spent at the Shores. While one could say I was a slacker (and many did), Charles always took his duties very seriously. For Shores residents it was comforting to know Charles was in charge, no pun intended.
Originally from Manchester, England, Charles gave every tenant’s call the scrutiny one might expect from an inspector at Scotland Yard. For example, there was the time when a friend moved out and left me some furniture by the elevator on her floor.
I began moving the pieces to my apartment, but when I returned an end table had mysteriously disappeared. I phoned Charles who jumped into action, grilling me for a detailed description of the “stolen item.”
As it turned out another tenant thought the end table had been discarded and took it inside her apartment. When I called Charles to explain the innocent mistake, he seemed deeply disappointed, “So then you won’t be pressing charges, Mr. Neworth?”
A 30-year resident of Santa Monica, Charles has varied interests, including running in marathons. He’s run 12 so far, with his best time coming last December in Las Vegas, when, at 56, he completed the distance in an impressive 3 hours, 59 minutes, 23 seconds. When I complimented Charles on finishing every marathon he’s entered, he joked, “Most of the drop outs occur between registration and the starting line.”
Throughout the year Charles runs approximately 20 miles a week. As it happens he’s entered in tomorrow’s 34th annual Santa Monica-Venice Christmas run. (Registration starts at 6 a.m.) It’s the largest holiday run/walk 5k and 10k in the Los Angeles area and an excellent fundraiser. This year’s proceeds will go to Partners in Malawi, a nonprofit that has built an HIV/AIDS treatment center in Malawi, an African nation with a 1-in-5 infection rate in urban areas.
Race organizers are expecting 4,000 entrants. I am all too familiar with this event because it begins and ends at 2600 Barnard Way, which is literally right outside my bedroom window.
In the early years of the race it sounded like all 4,000 were in my apartment. But I’ve gotten used to the noise and have even learned to work it into my slumber. On one occasion I actually dreamt that I joined in the 10k run. As I recall I did surprisingly well, albeit in my sleep.
The race winds through the trendy neighborhoods of Venice, and down the famous Venice Beach boardwalk. A wide range of participants enjoy the event each winter from costumed joggers to serious international caliber runners. I don’t know who’ll win but, if he treats the race with the same determination as he does security work, I’d bet on Bennett.
There’s still time to enter the race, so go to www.christmasrun.com.
Jack can be reached at Jnsmdp@aol.com.