It's no surprise or secret to anyone out there that I've lost a LOT in the past couple of years. I went from loosing my home in San Pedro and my job in Palos Verdes, to loosing my uHaul with everything I owned inside it, to loosing even the occasional spot in my parents memories on my own birthday. It's been a really hard year for me, and even now the only piece of furniture I own that I actually paid for (in Lew of finding it on the curb) is the night stand / dresser I bought from Ikea, just so I would have a spot to put my clothes.
I've been really upset lately. I'm more than broke and my car registration is coming due. While that would normally only be a little less than $200 a year, this year it's much higher. There are a couple of violations attached that I swore up and down I had taken care of. This year my vehicle registration will cost me more than $600 and it's due by November 20th. I don't have anything left to sell in order to make that payment. All I can think of at this point is giving up my apartment and using the deposit money to pay for my registration. Which is the lesser of two evils? Either I loose my place and live with two cats in my tiny car, or I sell my car and the three of us starve to death as I look for a job within walking distance.
All these thoughts clouded my mind the past few days, as well as wondering what my future will hold in store, feeling a bit like a train wreck in the head. I'm in the middle of a silent political battle between two different opponents, neither knowing what's going on with the other. In the mean time, here I sit feeling very much like the rope in a game of Tug-of-war.
As I sat enjoying the breeze in my hair on a hot day, I thought about all of these things on my drive home. It was only yesterday, November 3rd. It was after 4:30 pm but before 5:00 by the time I reached Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach. I was following the flow of traffic easily enough, but up ahead some guy in a cream colored Jaguar was blocking the slow lane on the major street I was traveling down. He was turning out of a side street trying to turn left, and had come to a complete stop in the slow lane. Since I was traveling along in the fast lane, I continued on my way, slowing slightly in case anyone tried anything crazy. Instead, he inched forward a bit. I honked my horn and he stopped again. Then he inched forward again. I honked again. He stopped completely in the middle of the lane, still blocking traffic entirely. Just about the time I got right in front of him, he hit the gas suddenly and nearly launched the back end of my car into oncoming traffic.
I was stunned. I couldn't believe that he would dare hit my car the way he did. He was out in the middle of the slow lane, blocking traffic, and empty street behind him he could have stayed in until traffic cleared. There was the suicide lane in the middle of the intersection he could have gone into. Instead, he gassed it and nailed the side of my car, causing me to fishtail in the lanes. Right away I pulled off to a red curb and got out to look at my car.
I gasped. The breath I sucked in would have filled my lungs twice on a normal day. At first all I thought he hit was my back bumper, since all I saw was the black smudge all the way in the back. But as my eyes traveled towards the front of my car, I realized just how much damage had been done. My passenger side door was hit first, but the other car tore up the back half of my car from the door to the tire. It was dented in, scraped and bent far worse than anything I have ever personally driven. I'd never been in a collision in my life! I didn't even have any speeding tickets on my record.
I opened my car door and inspected the damage a bit closer. Tears stung at my eyes and my anger began to boil deep in my belly. I was still in my work uniform, and I completely failed to notice that a part of my badge was poking out from under the hooded sweatshirt I had on over it. I grabbed my keys and heading across the street to find the other driver. I had hoped to find a witness or two on the way, but not a single person stopped. Several possible witnesses looked at me as though they were afraid to speak up.
"You didn't hear my horn," I asked the other driver as soon as I identified him.
"Yeah, I heard it, but it was already too late." He paused a second as though he was rethinking what he had just said. "It was your fault anyway. You were speeding."
Outraged at his accusation, I yanked out one of my mobile phones and began dialing a number. My hands were shaking and I could hardly focus on the numbers. It was as though I were trapped in a bad dream and finding myself unable to scream. I dialed in 411 and hit the green 'talk' button. It immediately connected.
"Give me your stuff," the other driver said. "Where's your insurance information?"
"I'm calling the Police," I stated clearly. "You can wait a minute." It was obvious the guy was in some sort of a hurry. I had no problem giving him my insurance information, but he wasn't going anywhere until I had the Police tell us both who was at fault. It wasn't even about having to prove myself right to this pompous jerk driving his classic Jaguar. It was more about knowing how much damage was on my car and realizing he had metal bumpers and only a small red smudge for his damage. It was about not wanting the cost of my insurance to go up. It was about me wanting to cover my butt and still being able to tell the world that I've never been in a collision where I was at fault. And it was about proving to the pompous jerk that he was wrong.
In the city of Los Angeles, we abound with idiotic drivers who all think that everything is about them. Accidents happen daily with uninsured motorists, people without drivers licenses, BMW drivers cutting people off, Mercedes drivers pretending like they own the road and taking their half out of the middle, etc. Here I had always been a responsible, good driver, always defensive and watching for idiots. Here I had seen an idiot and had taken the time to warn him of his potentially stupid mistake, and here he did it anyway. He had the opportunity to change what happened next and failed to do it. There was NO WAY I was going to give my information (including home address) to this guy without the police present. It might as well be me letting him get away with thinking that what he had done was correct and he wasn't to blame in any way. I'm not the kind of person to roll over and take a beating. I've said it before to some of the men in my life, and it's a lesson I learned well from my father. "Hit me once and you'll never do it again. Hit me twice and nobody will ever find the pieces." The guy already hit me once with his car. I wasn't about to let him slap me in the face to go with it.
TO BE CONTINUED...