Don’t Ride Angry

Sent out another batch of rezooms to another batch of companies looking for people half as talented and three times as cheap as I am — that’s the way to look at it, eh? I’m sure I’ll find the ideal job that way! Then I got on my bike and headed out for Samy’s Camera some seven miles away over on Fairfax to pick up the Canon camera that’s back from the manufacturer and good as new.

Oh boy but did I saddle up on The Phoenix in a foul weather. With The Clash’s “London Calling” pounding in my ears from my iPod’s headphones I even punched straight into the teeth of some of the heaviest-trafficked streets like Santa Monica and Vine and Beverly pedaling hard and acting like I was 10-feet wide and twice as long and daring anyone wearing a seatbelt and a shit-eating grin to do so much as look at me the wrong way, never mind cut me off or try to turn me into a hood ornament.

I’ll admit it, I was spoiling for a confrontation. I had a banana clip of expletives locked and loaded and ready to fire at the first target to present itself. But to my dismay the large segment of the four-wheeled world that I involved myself with from Silver Lake to Fairfax was on its best behavior today. They were looking just to get back to work or to lunch or to wherever the hell they were going, or maybe they all got the memo… the one that advised to be on the lookout and avoid antagonizing at all costs the crazed, orange-helmeted unemployed middle-aged freak overtly asserting that he and his two wheeled transportation did own the damn road.

In other words, attitude and idiotic intent not withstanding it was a really nice ride across town under a catalog-quality crystal clear and warm day. And into Samy’s I went passing the recently penalized Ethics Commission President Gil Garcetti (for unethically giving money to his son Councilman Eric Garcetti’s reelection campaign), who just happened to be conducting some sort of business at the first floor counter. That wasn’t my only chance encounter with Eric’s dad. The first time was in the Encino Trader Joe’s on Burbank near White Oak in the mid-’90s when he was still city district attorney and he was standing in the checkout line decked out in a full purple Lycra bike outfit. I’m talking coordinated top and bottom, possible even matching helmet and shoes. You just don’t forget images like that, especially of our elected officials.
I thought briefly about asking the elder Garcetti in passing how he was feeling just to see if he’d say “Fine!” but I’m not that big an ass nor did I really care and anyway, my business and camera was up on the fourth floor and I took the stairs there because elevators are for wimps.

Shortly thereafter with my newly refurb’d camera I was out of there back on The Phoenix and heading up Fairfax figuring I’d go up to Hollywood and indulge in never-before-had flannel cakes at Musso’s along with a stop at the Hollywood Toy Store to pick up some make-up for Susan and I to get all stylized skeleton-like for the upcoming Dia de los Muertos festivities at Hollywood Forever Cemetery and Olvera Street.

But first I had to make an ass out of myself waiting for a green light at Santa Monica Boulevard. See, about a block or so earlier this 1990-something Cadillac backed out off a parking lot and just stopped in the middle of the street blocking all of the No. 2 lane and forcing me into the No. 1 in order to get around. As I did so I was no longer feeling compelled to incite a personal riot as I had been earlier, but after passing I did let go a big wad of saliva in the car’s general direction just to let the driver know how much I appreciated his or her driving skills. And then I kept on going up to the red at Santa Monica. Looking behind me to see where the Caddy was going I found it stopped halfway down the block in the midst of a right turn into an alley. Sure enough, the driver’s side window rolls down and the lady inside is screaming something at me but I can’t hear. So with spittle flying everywhere and some invective for emphasis, I give her a full-volume explantion of how bothered I am by her backing out in front of me and how much that sucked. When I see her still talking animatedly to me but can’t hear her I follow that up with some more spittle and bad words and finish it off with an exagerated gesture, to which she shakes her head in frustration and waves her hand at me and continues her way into the alley.

Of course, having waved her hand at me in a dismissive way, I had to turn around and catch her and I did just that at the other end of the alley where found she was probably my mom’s age and immediately felt like a shitheel bullyturd. So I canned the bad words and asked her if she had something she wished to say to me.

And she said all she wanted to know was if I was all right.


“As you passed behind me I thought you hit my car.”

“Uh, no… I didn’t hit your car. I spit at your car after I passed it because I was upset by your blocking the lane, but I didn’t come in contact with your car.”

So then she apologizes to me saying that she didn’t see me until she had already started to back out into the street and she stopped the moment she did. And I stumbled (albeit spittle free finally) through something about how it might not be a bad idea to make a better effort at being more aware of what’s going on around her. And she dropped her chin and gave me a wry smile as she looked at me over the top of her eyeglasses and said that it seemed like we both could have handled the whole thing better. And dang if that didn’t totally disarm me and leave me apologizing for my reactions and telling her how embarrassed I was for my behavior.

“I’m just not having a very good day,” I said as if that’s any excuse for being such a reactionary jerk.

“That’s all right dear,” she said. “Let’s both try to be more careful.” And I nodded and her window rolled up and she gave me a little wave as she turned right out of the alley and headed south. And I pedaled north back up to Santa Monica and turned east.

You know, sometimes angels come out of places you least expect them like West Hollywood alleyways to show you the world isn’t your enemy and you don’t have to go looking to fight it.

I took a pass on Musso’s (guilt from a recent cookie dough incident prevailed), but I did hit the toy store for the necessary cosmeticals. I stopped off at the Bicycle Kitchen (whose street was festooned with all the gear and vehicles needed for a location shoot of some TV commercial) to get some good advice on how to tighten a loosening front wheel hub, then I came back up to Sunset to pick up a couple batteries at Radio Shack. All the way I was the very model of the respectful and considerate and forgiving cyclist I should always be.