Rear Ended

A jolt of mortal clarity to wake up by

By Al Carlos Hernandez
Published on LatinoLA: November 1, 2003

Rear Ended

I?ve been in a malaise over the last few weeks. Maybe it?s the changing of the seasons, maybe it?s the fact that Hollywood TV and film people don?t get me, but the days seem to string together uneventfully, somehow waiting for something to happen.

It was around noon when I paradoxically drove my luxury SUV to the cheap gas station. All was boring, while making the way up the hill then veering right yielding, waiting, to join the 50 mph plus stream racing south.

Suddenly, a tiny screech, then heard a loud boom, the back of the SUV lifted a foot into the air. I was shoved forward, and heard the crashing of glass. I have been rear-ended, and it was like a bumper car push: A jolt of mortal clarity.

I hit the emergency flasher lights, rolled over to the side of the road, and got out to see the damage. It seems a blue one-size-smaller SUV ran into me. It looked like it was whipped in the face by Godzilla?s tail; my back bumper looked like it had been kicked in the posterior by King Kong.

It seems silly now, but dudes will know what I?m talking about when I somehow felt that since her car was damaged much more than mine, I had won.

A very conservative middle class woman was already out assessing the damage. She was stoically concerned that I was hurt, but I assured her that I always look like this in the morning, and aside from a twisted, sore right arm, and, and?my new Rolex watch flying out the window, getting run over by six hundred cars...I was fine. If I was straddling a hot cup of coffee which often my custom, I would be able to sing falsetto in the church musical this year.

It is bizarre how one's life can change so dramatically from one moment to the next, and I cringed when realized that on days like these, I usually like to ride my motorcycle. If I did, I would be no doubt in critical condition somewhere or worse. This may not be a macho certainly not socio-politically correct thing to say, but I believe in Guardian Angels.

The conversation with the woman who immediately assumed guilt took place in a slow motion fogged dream.

We exchanged numbers, insurance information, and we shared the fact this was for both of us, our first official wreck. She was really concerned about her husband getting mad at her, this being a brand new vehicle. She had mixed emotions when she realized my SUV was the one she wanted but settled for the GMC Envoy instead. She could have been player hating me for winning the fender bender.

I called 911 so the police could take a report. They put me on hold. When an operator came on I told her the situation, she said there were no police available, and I told her to call the Starbucks down the hill. She laughed, I wasn't joking. No police report was necessary if no one was injured. My wreck mate Dianne had an appointment at 1pm.

My incident is small and not really worth mentioning compared to those who have lost everything in the devastating fires that have been lighting up in biblical proportions the southern half of the state. I cannot begin to imagine how drastically one's life can change after losing a house, a neighborhood, a lifetime of memories.

I?ve known that life can change for the good or for the bad, from one moment to the next. When I worked in the motorcycle business I was standing next to a friend who answered the phone. His whole countenance changed as that call was from Europe and he was hired on the spot to be the traveling bass player for the 80s bad hair band ?Flock of Seagulls?. I have been on the wrong end of a harried announcement that a loved one had passed away.

I?m no longer having the luxury of being in a malaise. I?ve been slapped out of it by reality, and sometimes we don?t know how good we have it until something injurious occurs. Then we wish things were back the way they were, forgetting that we were sniviling about the trivial while the devastating was held at bay.

We need to pray for the brothers and sisters who woke up to find that all is now different, giving them the courage to rebuild.

About Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos is a national columnist and a screenwriter without an agent.

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