So I was nearly in a car accident today.
Alana and I were on the way home from a none-too-impressive (though reasonably cheap) dinner; driving back westwards along Katella in Anaheim towards home. Medium traffic; Katella is four lanes each way coming up to Harbor Blvd., the southeast corner of Disneyland across the street. Right lane becomes a right turn there, so I was in the next over, rolling up on a steady green. Two left turn lanes too, so a full six lanes on this side of the intersection.
Someone in a black SUV, I think a Navigator or a Expedition, in the leftmost left and stopped at the red arrow decides all of a sudden that right, not left, is the way they should be going. Why, I have no idea, why the crazy urgency of it. Like the cops were after him, the way he took off, but nothing I could see. Maybe simply realising the 5 freeway was north on Harbor, not south. Maybe an argument inside, who knows.
But he takes off out of that left lane as if he's a stunt driver in a car chase. Without the preparation. Cuts across the other left land then across all the lanes of rolling traffic. Nobody in the first two right lanes close enough, fortunately for everyone, but he's right there in front of me all of a sudden broadside on and I'm headed right at him. My brakes jammed to the floor. Hard, screech of brakes, violently, smoke.
I was probably only cruising 20, 25, and my foot was off the throttle, hovering over the brakes, knowing those Disneyland tourists and how they're walking out of there, dead tired, fireworks in their eyes, heads full of Mickey, jaywalking right into traffic so damn often; and it's lucky I wasn't distracted, eyes off to the side for a moment keeping an eye on pedestrians or something. Came to a stop short of him and he sped off, tourists spilling on either side as they avoided him; he'd aimed straight at a dozen people crossing.
Even more fortunate Alana saw it coming and grabbed on. No shoulder belts in a '67 car.
I sat there for ... it felt like a while, but maybe five seconds, before Alana reminded me that the light was still green.
At the next light two men in an adjacent car were admiring the Thunderbird and told me they'd seen the idiot, were glad we weren't hurt.
Two tons of Detroit steel would have left more of a dent in a SUV's side than any damage he'd have done to me, I'm pretty sure, but that would be cold comfort indeed ... that the idiot could have been hurt clearly didn't even flicker in his mind. There's no deterrence when people don't think. Big SUVs make people feel godly, invulnerable ... is that the appeal? They make forty year olds feel seventeen and invincible again.
I'm still feeling shaken. Every time something like this happens, reminding me that I and everyone else is but one idiot away ...
Oh, and I preceded this by managing to lock my keys in the car. Juggling too much stuff, forgetting the keys were still in the ignition. Fortunately, the quick application of a coathanger sorted that one ... a good reminder of just how easy cars were to steal back when mine was made.