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Walking In L.A., or, Nearly Getting Run Down On The Way To Sushi

by Amy Zidell

10.31.00

The following is true. If I had real names of the perpetrators, I'd use them.

The phrase, "Did you get the number of the truck that hit you?," meant very little to me as a phrase before the other night. I've never thought much about those few words. They never made it into a quote in an on-line profile or e-mail signature of mine. However, this phrase has new meaning to me now. Except in my case it was a midnight blue Honda Accord and not a truck Mack or otherwise. And it didn't hit me. It just came within 2-3 inches of me, threatening to do more damage to my left knee and the attached leg and body than all my years of Track & Field competition. Like the phrase, I didn't get the number. I did get a number of angry explicatives from the obnoxious inhabitants of this terror car however.

That's right! I kid you not, and exaggerate none. Let me paint the picture. My dear friend Jeri and I got together for some celebratory sushi. It's a crisp late October evening in Sherman Oaks. I am wearing a light jacket as we are experiencing one of LA's requisite cooler days. (I wonder if the issue of the number of days below 74º in Los Angeles was a major sticking point in the recent SAG strike.) Anyway, we are enjoying a pleasant walk to the sushi bar and come to the Beverly Glen ­ Ventura Boulevard intersection. The North ­ South light is red while the West ­ East light is green. Additionally, largely pleasant white letters brightly invite us to cross, pleading simply, "WALK." A white car is partially blocking the crosswalk. So I proceed behind this white car poised to turn right on Red - a legal moving navigation at this particular intersection. As I continue, now fully in the crosswalk, the blue Honda Accord, behind the White car, starts to go.

As frequently happens to me anytime some large eminent danger is coming my way, there's a moment of sensory stillness and time seems to slow. At all about the same time the car screeches, Jeri cries out, "Oh my God!," and my hand drops down in a defensive posture at my knee, bare inches from the silvery Honda 'H' logo shinning in the street lights ­ like this will help at all.

I believe that at this point I yell something to the driver to the effect of, "Watch it asshole!" Then some horribly bitchy character in the back seat, who, by the way, looks similar to the rich bitchy character Jackie in "That 70's Show", one of four passengers in the car all obviously dressed for a Halloween party, starts screaming at me, swearing up, down and sideways. I'm surprised she isn't dressed as a sailor they way she is going on. Her face is screwed up in a nasty vicious snarl as she violently gestures with her hands. I can make out part of what she's saying between curse words and she seems to be complaining about how I was in the crosswalk. Mind you, she's in the back seat. What she could see of me in the crosswalk from the back seat is beyond me. It's not like we hopped into the crosswalk. I'm wearing a red jacket, we paused at the corner before starting into the crosswalk, and Jeri's nearly 6', oh and WE ARE IN THE CROSSWALK!, what part of this is hard to see? Jeri and I continue through the crosswalk. I pepper my steps with some choice words myself. I think I also flip the passengers in the car off. The driver is a blond guy very sheepishly trying to avoid looking at me. His window rolls up; it rolls down. He can't decide what to do. He clearly is very nervous. When I'm about three feet past the front of the car I shout back directly at him as best I can remember, "How about a, 'Sorry,' or 'You okay?,' or, 'My bad.' How about something? That would be the decent thing to do." I turn back and notice some contented souls munching away on Fat Burgers mildly interested in the commotion. My hands flail in the air incredulous. I say to Jeri but loud enough for the intersection to hear, "They nearly mow me down in a crosswalk and they flip ME off?" Jeri and I chuckle. "Only in L.A. would this happen."

Jeri agrees remarking that on a trip to D.C. she found people infinitely more civilized than they are in L.A. Maybe D.C. is friendlier; I've heard they're pretty friendly to interns there.

"Do you know that the driver is dressed as a priest?" I inform Jeri.

"No!," she's surprised and we both laugh. The irony is just too funny. If a dangerously driving priest hadn't cursed me out I would be a little more traumatized about being nearly run over.

"They're probably drunk and not paying attention to their driving, going to their little party," Jeri concludes.

I agree. Now the North ­ South crosswalk sign beckons us. We look around very carefully. It's nearly 9 PM and there's very little traffic, which again makes the whole almost becoming an auto versus pedestrian emergency call all the stranger. As we cross, we're still shaking our heads digesting the events of the previous seconds. "I should have pepper sprayed them!" I announce.

"Yeah," Jeri laughs.

Miraculously, we make it to the sushi bar without further molestation. We are seated right away at the bar. Jeri starts with warm Sake;x I start with hot green tea. I laugh at a thought running through my head, "I should have fallen to the ground and grabbed my knee in soccer game agony. That would have freaked that bogus priest out I bet."

Jeri laughs, nodding her head in agreement, "Oh my gosh, yes!"

"Yeah, I could have remodeled my entire house," I conclude.

"Really," Jeri agrees.

"But you wouldn¹t have know that's what I was doing and it would have scared you," I continue.

"I could have done CPR," she emphasizes continuing with a litany of technical medi-speak. Jeri works in the medical field and could match ER or Chicago Hope dialogue any day.

"Yeah, I bet they wouldn't be swearing at me then," I surmise. "But of course that wouldn't be ethical. I wouldn't feel right about that." I pick up my tea, "To ethics," I offer up in toast.

My teacup and Jeri's Sake shooter clank in response.

So no, I didn't get the number of the Honda that nearly hit me. Perhaps it qualifies as attempted vehicular assault. I still think I should have pepper sprayed them.

©2000 Amy Zidell

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