Part of a tribe

The other day, some idiot drove though the crosswalk to my son’s school.

Now this is not that unusual an occurrence. The crosswalk is on a busy street (Burbank Blvd), and the cars, especially in the morning, are not particularly focused on their surroundings. What made this episode unusual was the amazingly level of blindness performed by this driver. Really almost a Herculean effort. And then when this driver actually had to deal with his epic level of fuck-upidness (is that a word?), sadly he failed.

Let me start at the beginning. The crosswalk is fairly big, in crosswalk terms. There are flashing yellow lights (3 each way), large yellow reflective signs (2 each way), big fat yellow lines, etc. In addition there are signs for the School Zone, and others that say “Reduced Speed 25 MPH when children are present”. On top of all that, there is a crossing guard, whose name happens to be Mali (really the nicest of guys). Mali wears a bright yellow vest with a reflective orange stripe, and carries a very large red stop sign.

These are the hints, the subtile, and not so subtile, suggestions which all drivers are expected to observe and follow. From experience, I’d say about 1 in 10 morning drivers are not up to the level of introspection. The unexamined driver is NOT worth following apparently. At least on Burbank Blvd.

Every morning when I walk my son to school, we have to look out for these bozos, and make sure we are not in the crosswalk when they decide to not see us. Like I said, 1 in 10.

Anyway, my story starts with me crossing back over, after dropping off my son. The South side of the road slightly more congested with parents dropping off their kids. The crossing guard, hits the button, causing those big orange lights to flash. The traffic slows on both sides, and we begin to cross. A eastbound car stuck in the middle of the T intersection, attempts to turn North from Burbank onto St. Clare. A guy in a black car, going the other way (westbound) barely stops in time for the guy to make his left turn, laying on his horn to let everyone know how unhappy he is. By this time, every other car around is stopped, as in NO MOTION. Mali and I are halfway across Burbank, heading North.

So now there is, in addition to all the signs and lights noted above, the fact that every single other car around is completely stopped, and there are people in the middle of the street. The guy in the black car starts to drive forward. Remember he had to come to a complete stop to let the car turn left in front of him. So now he hits the gas, and moves forward. Several people including myself yell very loudly at this time. (Let me tell you, I know how to yell. When I yell at something, it stays yelled at. For hours.) This apparently has no effect as the guy continues to drive, and drives right in front of me.

That was when I slammed my arm down, and hit the top of his rear corner panel with an open palm. Bamm. I’d love to say I can slap a car as good as I can yell. I’d love to say that there were paint flakes in my hand because I hit that car so hard. Alas, I did not damage the car at all. However, I did manage to do something no one else had been able to do that morning; get through the thick skull of the idiot behind the wheel.

In classic American idiot fashion, our young driver pulls over, and gets out of his car. He is mad now. Someone has touched his car. Out of the Blue! or so I’m sure it felt to him. So he gets out, and starts to curse. I wait for him at the corner, and he comes walking over, eyes aflame.

And it is at this particular moment I realize I am part of a village. The idiot comes over to confront me, and suddenly another father, and the crossing guard are at my side. A third father is on his balcony of the apartments above us, yelling for the guys license plate number as he is on the phone with the cops. The other father, (Lee, whom we also happen to know) and I are attempting to out yell the idiot driver. The crossing guard is yelling to. I’m fairly passive, trained as I was to stop situations like these from escalating (special education teachers are good at this), but Lee is having none of that passive crap. He is mad. Mad and tall. He looms over the young man, and suddenly the idiot is realizing he might be in a situation over his head. The idiot’s excuse, “But I didn’t see you,” sounded especially lame.

Moments later, our intrepid idiot, suddenly turns heal and walks to his car.

And you know the best part about all this? That very morning when he got to work, I know exactly what that idiot said to his co-workers: “Hey guess what? Some asshole hit my car today. For no reason.”

There’s an old writing adage that goes, “Every villain is the hero of their own story.” I can tell you, it is true. So very true.

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