While faxing a document (after I churned some butter and worked my abacus for this anachronistic trifecta), I heard screeching tires then a LOUD CRUNCH. I looked up and saw a car finish the tail end of a 180 degree (tail?) spin, after having been nearly t-boned.
No sirens. No ambulances. No screams. The light turned from red to green. Cars go by. Back to red. Back to green. Cars go by. It’s LA. Places to go. Things to do.
The crunched car just sat in the middle of the intersection.
The intersection in question is loathsome. A weird locus of chaos and mayhem that seems custom built to ruin peoples lives. Six roads that all lead directly to one deductible destroying nucleus. Every time I drive through it successfully I can hear Tina Turner screaming “BUST A DEAL, FACE THE WHEEL!” Sure, people use Mad Max references all the time.
The light changes again and I think the same thing that everyone else was probably thinking (“This better not make me late for my audition!”): Holy shit someone really ought to go check on this person, because, you know, they just got ROCKED.
Lights change. Cars drive by. I start to judge, but it’s LA, I get it. People have shit to do. (“I hope they were headed to my audition!”)
Unlike me, I actually CAN intervene but I don’t. I just continue to think about it, because unlike many of my friends, I have a very stunted hero reflex. Instead of Saving the Day I’m pretty content to just Think About It. My thoughts aren’t even great. Mostly stories of
martyrs samaritans who run to save the day and then get crushed by the other cars.
Lights change. Cars drive by. No one stops. No one emerges from the struck car.
Realizing that this person is dead or unconscious I stop my business transaction and politely jog to the scene. I open the driver’s door effortlessly. This is kind of a bummer.
In my heart of hearts, I’d hoped to YANK it open, screaming and straining. I would probably scream “NOOOOOO I WILL SAVE YOUUUUU” as I did it, and cool (pixar) hero tears would stream down my face. Best case scenario? I dislocate both of my arms, and drag her to safety using just my giant HEART and spend the next 6 weeks just waiting for people to ask what’s up with my two casts.
The lady emerges, shaking, mumbling, still wearing her sunglasses.
I didn’t have anything but words and my inner monologue so I tried to use both to make her feel better.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
(No Phil, don’t ask if she’s okay, reassure her.)
“Er, I’m sure you’re okay!”
(but what if she’s not okay?)
“I mean… are you bleeding?”
(You’re going to alarm her!)
“You don’t -appear- to be bleeding.”
(Man, just pick something.)
“You’re PROBABLY in shock.”
“Ma’am, you’re definitely in shock.”
(“Ma’am”? Okay 1920s Cop Phil, do your thing.)
We walked, while she mumbled and shook, to the nearest place where she could sit, and I said “Sit down here, in the shade, I’ll get you some water.” I made a big deal out of the shade since it seemed like the only thing I could offer her before I had the water.
I’ve never seen robbers perform a hold-up before, but I bet they look basically the way I looked as I burst into the Fish & Chips store, Liam Neeson style screaming “GIVE ME SOME WATER!” After a moment’s (fright?) hesitation she asked me to repeat myself, and I just pointed at the damaged car outside and said “WATER.” (As if the lady wouldn’t just straight up give me water. I had to convince her.)
She got the point though and got me that styrofoam cup of water at least a half second faster because I made such a strong case for its need. On my way out the door she said “You don’t need to bring it back!” which was superfluous because it was a styrofoam cup of water. I was never, ever, going to bring it back.
She probably just wanted to be helpful.
I decided to check in with the other driver to make sure she wasn’t also dead or crying. She seemed pretty shook up, but told me she was fine. When I heard her accent, I said “Oh, where are you from originally?” I used my “curiosity” tone which is unfortunately also my “Oh I see what happened here you idiot foreigner didn’t know what you were doing why do we even give you drivers licenses?” tone.
She’s from England, and hastily adds that she’s been here for 11 years. “This is my first accident.” she says, looking for absolution from the guy who only offers water and shade after a lot of thinking. I tell her it happens all the time and not to worry about it. We all wait around for all of about 5 minutes for the cops and sirens to come but then no one does.
The two drivers who are involved in this potentially fatal crash decide that they have more important things to do, swap information and drive off to their lives. It’s LA, everyone has shit to do.