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Exit ArchiveArchive for October 14th, 2005

Dent of ManOn my way to have dinner before my improv show last night, I took my usual route over the hill from Burbank into Hollywood. From Highland, I turned onto Franklin. Usually, I get into the right-hand lane, since the left-hand lane is often taken up with stopped cars trying to turn left. I ended up in the left lane instead. Less than a block from making the turn, I did, in fact, see the two SUVs ahead of me in my lane stopping. I made a quick lane change to the right to avoid this. Just as I finished the change, a guy appeared from behind the first stopped car. “What is he doing there?” I thought. Then I hit my brakes, but I don’t remember: Was there squealing? Did I stomp on the brakes, or just press with controlled firmness?

I watched the man’s face. He watched me through his glasses. He was young, clean-cut, wearing a backpack. “I’m going to hit a person,” I thought. I was resigned immediately to this fact. I continued to watch him, as he did me. He didn’t run or jump back. I didn’t swerve. I didn’t yell. I don’t think I did, anyway.

Did my brakes squeal? My eyes felt wide. I just made a swift lane change, it’s my fault. Why was this guy here? Didn’t he bother to look? It’s his fault. What was he doing there?

I waited to see what would happen. How fast was I going? Not speeding, definitely. Jump out of the way or something…

It was not a hard crunch or any kind of bang, and my car didn’t lurch. It was like hitting a sack. The guy rolled up the front of my car, onto my hood, sideways, fetal. Did he roll off the car? No, I think he stepped. He was up immediately.

I did not panic, and I did not feel uneasy. I felt stupid and resigned. He looked at me with the same look he had before I hit him. As I pulled my car off Franklin to a small side street, he was limping. I stopped on the left curb and turned on my hazards. Before I got out of the car, I took a half-second to pause my iPod, which was playing a duet. Annie and Warbucks had just been cheerfully singing, “Hamlet needed his mother. Woolworth needed his shop. Orville needed his brother, or else… he’d go… KER-PLOP!” It was embarrassing enough I’d hit this guy; I had to pause the treacle.

“I’m so sorry! Are you okay?” “I think I am, yes,” he said with a slight accent. European something. “Are you sure?” “Yes.” He touched himself on the legs, wiggled around. Repeat that exchange few times, and the wiggling. I looked at my hood, where a long, white mark was. I didn’t see the dent until later that night. “Are you sure? I think I hit you pretty hard. I don’t know what to do.” I was very sorry, I did not see him coming from behind the SUV. He was very sorry, he saw the cars stopping and thought he was okay. “Are you sure you’re not hurt? I don’t want to leave you hurt.” How can anyone be sure of something like that on the spot? Was I kidding? “Thank you for even stopping. That was very good of you,” he said.

I should give him my card, I thought. But no, I shouldn’t. I should be happy this wasn’t worse. What if he’s one of those people who will sue me? I shouldn’t give him my card. No, I should. Give him my card. It was a choice between paranoia and the correct thing to do.

I didn’t give him my card. All I did was awkwardly shake his hand. He turned and walked up the hilly side street as I sat for a minute in my car, taking a moment to relax as the yellow hazard lights reflected off the world. He seemed to be walking fine. No limp. Yes, he must be okay. Maybe.

Continuing on my drive (“Annie, Annie, Annie, look what you’ve done for us!”), I was not as shaken as I thought I should have been. I was pensive over how simply and quickly the accident had taken place. They all do, though. But I hit a person. Shouldn’t I be shaking? Nervous? Worried? Shouldn’t I be slowing down?

The guy could still find me and sue me, I suppose, even if he’s not hurt. I don’t think he will. His manner was antithetical to such action. But how can anyone be sure of something like that on the spot? That I may have hurt him more than I believe I did is what gives me pause.

I feel badly that I did not give him my card. I feel worse about that than about hitting him. Hitting him was not a choice. I had no choice. He was there and I was there and neither of us could have done anything. The only real thing I could have done was be brave and give him my card. I found I was being let off the hook, though, so I took the opportunity. I should have been a better person and made sure he had a way to contact me in case he found I’d injured him.

Sometimes I’m not as decent a person as I want or try to be, and that’s more distressing than the accident itself.

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For bit of fun between two sobering posts, I present some easy links to comics from The Joy of Tech. If you laugh at these, you belong.

Crack in the Nano

Greedy Edgar

Serenity: Can’t Stop the Sci-Fi

Just for the record, I know nothing about, am not a fan of, or have ever watched more than one episode of Firefly.

This article on (yes, it’s a Mac-happy site!) showcases another beautiful illustration of modern propaganda. It’s almost laughable, this blatant bias. And on a NEWS site, too. It’s like that whole thing with W’s government passing off pre-packaged propaganda to local news stations as journalism. I mean, just read about it here if you still doubt that our current leadership is sneaky, covert, corrupt, and immoral. There is nothing right or good about someone who could believe this, for instance:

Supporters say prepackaged news stories are a common public relations tool with roots in previous administrations, that their exterior packaging typically identifies the government as the source, and that it is up to news organizations, not the government, to reveal to viewers where the material they broadcast came from.

I see. So in this instance, it’s okay to say you’re behaving like those depraved previous administrations you spend so much time trying to distance yourselves from. And the viewer is meant to somehow have seen this exterior packaging that is not part of the fake news story. And it’s okay to pass the buck this time to someone else, the journalists. Scratch that last one: W’s people pass the buck all the time. That’s how lying works, I think.

I’d laugh, but it’s all to much. Oh, Mr. Murrow, where are you now? (I mean, dead, yeah, I know, but… you know…)