Urban Scout’s LA story

Two years ago I moved to LA to work in the film industry. As you can see, it didn’t work out. LA chewed me up and spat me out… or Portland just couldn’t live without me. Either way, it was 3 months of hell. Here is a snippet of something I wrote back then…

It’s 3:53pm. At 11:45 I was in a car accident.
A couple weeks ago I did some work for Paul Wells, Lisa’s dad, painting his work shed. Today I set out to go pick up the check from his house in Agua Dulce, a little town in Canyon Country just 30 or so miles NE of Los Angeles. I was in the left lane of I-5 North, blasting MC5 on my tape deck and enjoying the summer sun with my windows rolled all the way down when I came over the crest of a hill going with traffic at about 65-70 miles per hour. When I hit the top I saw before me miles of gridlock traffic, and everyone else slamming on their brakes. I slammed mine too and, worried that I didn’t have enough room, pulled into the median shoulder and stopped. I looked into my rear view mirror and watched the car coming, it’s tires screaming at the hot pavement leaving behind rubber scars and didn’t brace for impact. I felt them collide with my car. It was hard. I felt the crunch of my own bones, the twisting of my frail human body inside the steel beast. For a few moments I let the car roll down the shoulder when I put the parking break on. I’m okay I thought. MC5 is still blasting, “Everyones sick of the American ruse! Take a look around!” I look again in my rear view mirror and see the mangled front end of a Toyota Corolla. Their hood was smashed and I couldn’t see if they were okay or not. I climbed out of my car. As I walked to the back to survey the damage I imagined it would be terrible, since the other guy’s car was totally fucked. My car was pretty bad, but maybe repairable. I’ve never been in a car accident before. Exchange information I thought. I light a cigarette and approach the other vehicle. Don’t say sorry, don’t admit fault. He steps out. He’s okay. All four people in his car are okay. His name is Eduardo Rodriguez and I want to give him a hug and say Holy Shit Right!? (and secretly I wonder as an ignorant white kid from small town Portland, is he related to Robert Rodriguez the Filmmaker? But I don’t ask) We have to act like we don’t like each other cause that’s the way these things go. I set my cigarettes on the ground and we exchange information in silence. I can tell by his eyes that he’s a nice kid. It’s not his car; it’s his uncle Mario’s. A cop rolls onto the scene. Go get in your car and put your seat belt on he tells me. But I’m not done getting his infor… Um okay. Yes sir. In my car I call my mom and sister and uncle and dad and Mo Fo and Insurance Company. I tell my insurance I’m just on vacation in Los Angeles. I live in Portland Oregon. I’m here cause I’m thinking about moving. That’s why my cell phone has a 310 area code. It’s his fault of course. That’s the benefit of being rear-ended. It’s always their fault. The cop comes and talks to me and I tell him my version. No, the car isn’t in my name yet… He reads the plates into his radio. Moments later I hear my deceased friends name crackling and popping out of the cops chest and it’s eerie like when I saw his death certificate a couple of weeks ago and I don’t even know what it was that I felt. A fire truck pulls up and the cop yells at the other one to tell them to get the hell out of here. I guess the firemen didn’t listen cause he walks right past the other cop and asks me if I need to go to the hospital. I almost burst into tears and tell him no. My neck really hurts. The firemen leave. The cop gives me a piece of paper with a bunch of writing on it. The tow truck comes. I don’t know what to do so I text message everyone I know. Car totaled. I’m Okay. On my way to towing yard. I climb into the huge platform tow-truck the Chip called. It’s all part of the adventure I tell myself. I don’t want to think about how the car I’m driving was previously driven by my friend who died in a car crash and what that means if anything. And it probably means nothing anyway, car crashes happen all the damn time right? I don’t want to think about losing that car because of its sentimental value, how I can feel his presence in the car sometimes. I talk to the tow-truck driver. He tells me all about tow trucks. I don’t care at all but I listen to every word. He likes this one because the driver’s seat has like shock absorbers or something and it’s all bouncy. He likes this one cause it’s big. He’s only been driving this particular model for 3 days. He’s getting a new one next week though. A 2005. Same kind as this one. He’s a very nice man. We talk about our cell phone plans and about Canyon Country. At the Towing Yard the man behind the desk is totally drunk and it’s only 1pm. You can’t blame him. I suppose if I worked at a towing yard in Canyon County I would be drunk too. Do you have insurance? Yes. What kind? Um. Liability and comprehensive but no collision. What does that mean? Should I be signing something? Are you insured? Yes. Liability? Yes and comprehensive. What’s that? You know, theft, damages… I don’t know. Wait, so do you have insurace? YES. Do you want to see my insurance card? No. Go get your stuff out of your car. Um okay. The driver is still lowering my car off the platform. Did you sign the papers? No, he said… I don’t know what he said… Yeah he’s kinda being weird today. I empty the car and go back inside. So, should I sign something? Yeah. Here. I sign it. Portland huh? I wish my driver would move to Portland. I chuckle. Did you get all your things out of the car? Yeah, but do I need to take like, the manual and everything in the glove box. No. Also, feel free to leave like large amounts of cash and gold and jewelry. He’s got a sense of humor after all. I leave all that crap in the car, mix tapes, a 5 gallon bucket filled with my old oil I haven’t disposed of yet, a basketball. I take my camera and The Club. I don’t know why I took The Club and not my basketball. Ingrid pulls up in a huge rental truck. It was all they had left at the rental place when her car got wrecked a couple of days ago. I called her cause I knew she would sympathize with me. She buys me lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Santa Clarita. We talk about cars and wrecks and our dodgeball team and the hospital. I’m going to the hospital tomorrow. My neck hurts bad. Everyone tells me that it takes 3-4 days before it REALLY hurts. I wonder why the hell is that? My dad says I better go to the store and buy a neck brace and I remember me and my sisters laughing at him wearing one of those silly things when we were kids. I call my uncle who is a Chip and shoot the shit with him. I tell him it’s all part of the adventure right? He laughs a comforting laugh and it feels good to hear. Lisa’s dad calls and demands to know what the hell happened? I tell him and he’s very nice and supportive and offers any help he can. When I get home just now, I reach into my pockets and search for my cigarettes but they’re not there. I forgot them on the side of the stupid dusty freeway.

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