Driving in Los Angeles is almost like a horror movie to me. You've got assholes cutting you off all over the place, pedestrians appearing suddenly right in front of your car, and the likely possibility of getting shot near an exit of the 110 or 105 freeways. Of course now after many years of driving the streets of the city of Lost Assholes (I swear there are more cars in the streets every time I head out there whose sole purpose, I bet, is to make me wanna shoot somebody. I should never own a gun. Ever!) I fear that I may end up being the serial killer and cleaning up the streets from bicyclists, pedestrians, eloteros, and moron drivers (who I bet not by coincidence happen to be Raiders/Dodgers/Lakers fans). However, back in the days when i had just started driving, sitting in traffic or taking 45 minutes on a route that normally should take 15 felt like ice cream on a sunny afternoon. It felt like freedom. At least I wasn't walking, or worse, riding the bus! (*knock on wood*). Even though driving was still new and fun back when I had just started, it was perhaps the most scary to me. One particular incident comes to mind.
The time I was chased by a man driving a 1975 Pontiac Trans Am...
The year was 2002. I had just graduated from high school a few months ago and was driving an old red Hyundai that probably built on the year I was born. I was on my way to pick up my mom from work, when I noticed there was a 1975 Pontiac Trans Am (I know the year now because I just googled it) that made a U Turn after it had passed me. I thought "WTF?!" and noticed the car getting closer and closer as if he wanted to catch up to someone or thought this was the Indy 500. He was driving way too close to me. "Relax Jeff Gordon. There's a speed limit here." I said to myself. After a couple blocks I realized "Is he following me? He is following me! Shit!" I panicked. I went through a list of the people I knew in my mind and the car they drove. Of all 5 people, none drove a Pontiac Trans Am. I looked at my rear view mirror and saw the driver. It was a man. Maybe about a decade older than me, or so it seemed. I am not usually good with ages (I once almost made out with a 58 year old because I swore he looked 43. pffft!) He must've seen me looking at him through the rear view mirror because he signaled me to pull over.
"Is he confusing me with someone he knows? Is he an off duty cop who saw me take a red light? Why is the song playing on the radio right now totally not the right score music to this situation? There is no way I am pulling over. What could he possibly want me to pull over for? He could be a serial killer. A rapist. A Christian. A Hotel California fan. Nope I'm not pulling over." These were all things that went through my mind. Luckily for me the time wasn't traffic hour and the street lights of Slauson were all working with me. All green.
"I need to lose this dude." I decided.
I didn't want to be late for picking up mom, so I thought to just take maybe a more complicated route to get there. Figure I'd lose him on the way. Unfortunately, I was relatively new to driving, and was never really into tv shows or movies that would school me on losing someone while on being chased. Even the breaking news due to speed chase would make me turn off the tv or change the channel to PBS. So I gave it my best. I turned, and sped, and took alleys, and sped some more. Nothing worked. The dude was still on me trying to pull me over. Only now he was trying to get onto the opposite traffic lane so that he can pass me or something. I was starting to freak out and imagine the worst possible case scenarios. I imagined him being a mobster or cholo who had confused me for someone he was assigned to make go away. Well, he could've just shot me from behind, so that wasn't it. I then thought he was probably someone I knew who was messing with me, or some bored fuck just trying to get his jollies. I just couldn't think of a possible explanation for what was going on. But now I had bigger problems; I was getting closer to my destination.
"Shit! I'm gonna have to pull over to see what he wants. I cannot take him to where I am going."
A block away from where I was to get mom, I decided to pull over to see what he wanted. Then maybe he'll go away...or kill me. So I pulled over, and he pulled up right next to me. Suddenly I realized where I was. Genius me had pulled over in the most deserted street ever. I quickly scanned the car for a weapon type object just in case things got nasty. Of course, because of my OCD (self diagnosed) I never leave random objects in my car, and at the time I had no cell phone. So I turned off the car (another brilliant move. sigh.) and grabbed my keys placing them between my knuckles.
He rolls down his window and says "Hey what's your name? Can I have your number?"
"ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!???" I thought to myself feeling both relieved and puzzled. "All of this was so that he could hit on me?! In what universe is this a thing?" I was now feeling annoyed, and wigged out. This was no doubt uncharted territory for me. I don't get hit on. So for this dude to go to these length to do so felt off. He must be a weirdo.
"Um, I don't have a number." I said, because it was true. I didn't have a cell phone at the moment, and as i discovered a little later in life, when asked for my number I can't seem to lie or give a false number. Even if I end up ignoring their calls.
"What's your name?" He persisted.
"Um..Marlene" I have no problem giving a false name. Unfortunately my mind always goes to the name Marlene. My older sisters name. Haha. I have used it many o' times. Mostly because my actual name always end up with me having to teach them how to spell or pronounce it, followed by questions of where I am from, and how my parents came up with it, and if it means anything. Marlene never got those type of questions.
"You are very beautiful Marlene. Let's go out sometime. Talk. Hang out."
This dude is creeping me out. We need to wrap this up and make him go away. "Is this why you were following me?"
"Yeah. Can I have your number? Maybe call you up sometime." This was the first time I can remember being hit on and it wasn't quite what I had imagined, or what I would've imagined if I had imagined it ever happening.
"I don't have a cell phone at the moment. I need to go now." I said hoping he'd get the hint that I wasn't into it.
"You got no house number?" He persisted yet again.
.....silence from me.
"Ok, Here. I'll give you mine." He said as he ripped a piece of an envelop he had in the glove compartment (Why do they call it the glove compartment? Are we supposed to be driving with gloves on and keep them in that compartment? I digress.). He handed me the piece of paper with his number and his name which I don't even remember now, but I wanna say it was Ben. "But please call me!" he insisted.
"Yeah, ok" I said as I turned my car back on.
"Call me! Please!" He said as he put his car on drive and drove away.
I waited a few minutes so that he drove far enough not to see where I was headed. Then drove off to get mom. At the time, my parents owned a toy store at a swapmeet in LA. When I got there and saw mom closing up I grabbed a marker she kept by the register, told her I had to pee and headed for the public restroom. I walked straight to the handicap stall took the marker and wrote the number and something along the lines of "Call me for a fun ride, Ben" Flushed the piece of paper and left wondering if anyone would actually call.
Hmmm I wonder if that place and number are still there.