UPDATE: If you’re visiting from Jalopnik, welcome and thanks to them for the link love… I think. As to their subheadline sass over asking “who calls a horn a honker,” the answer is: not me. Down near the end of this post “honker” refers not to a horn itself, but is rather the agent noun form of  the verb “honk” and describes the person honking the horn. But seriously, agent nouns? Yeah, you know… walk/walker, talk/talker, misinterpret/misinterpreter. Clear? Clear.

The good news was that the dude was too wasted to carjack me stuck in traffic tonight there on Vermont Avenue next to the USC campus in the middle of a downpour. The bad news was that he was too wasted to walk a straight line out in front of my truck. where he tipped over across the wet hood with a whump before uprighting and feeling his way around to the driver’s side where at first he politely and almost disinterestedly tapped on the window glass but quickly set to hammering at it when I didn’t respond.

I’m pretty sure he would’ve continued with increasing ferocity until it broke had I not rolled it down and when I did he didn’t bother with the exchange of any pleasantries.

“You gotta give me something,” he said furtively and seriously slurred. “I’m hurting, man.”

I suggested that pummeling his fists against my truck might not be the best way to enlist my support and that was the only time he looked directly at me with eyes that were glassy and distant beneath heavy lids.  Then he looked away and said “Huh?” before repeating that I needed to give him something and do it right now.

“Never mind,” I replied, flipping open the center console lid. “I got some change for you if that’ll help. He semi-grunted and wobbled unsteadily on his feet while  swinging his head up and down the street until a scooped up what probably amounted to about a buck’s worth of nickels, dimes and pennies and held it out to him, dropping them into his cupped hands.

“My girlfriend just broke up with me,” he said.

“Smart girl” is what entered my mind, but “Oh man, that sucks!” is what exited my mouth.

“Yeah, she kicked me out!” He blinked slowly and started a portside list but caught himself before gravity fully kicked in.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said, trying to sound like I meant it. “Hope that helps.”

He looked down at the coins I’d given him and for a moment I thought I saw a look of disapproval pass across his face, but the line of cars in front of me had started moving and a sharp blast of the horn from the vehicle behind us got his attention. Seemingly involuntarily the hand holding my donation rose and with extending middle finger was directed to the honker, which caused the money fell from it to the pavement where it tinkled and rang as it landed on the soaked street.

Taking that as my queue to bid the dude adieu, I hit the gas and put my assailing panhandler in my rearview mirror.