OK, I want to outline a simple scenario I experienced on the way home tonight.
There I was, driving down 1st Street through the anus of East L.A. Many might refute this overly specific description as redundant. Nevertheless, this was in one of the grittier, nasty areas of the beautiful unincorporated wasteland just east of downtown L.A.
I’d also like to cheerily and good-heartedly add that I am not an aggressive driver. I am not impatient, I don’t speed, I don’t tailgate…you know, all those things that make most Angeleno drivers such a joy to share the road with. However, I will qualify that on the way home I want to go straight home, uninterrupted, and my patience reserves are severely depleted after a full day of work. My patience is thin and delays of any sort make me react sharply unlike delays I experience during the morning commute when my spirits are high and relaxed. Besides, who the hell is in a rush to get to work?
I temper any potential flare ups of impatience by making myself fully aware of, and having a thorough concept of, my ride home and what can be expected. If I take the freeway, I must be prepared for stop and go traffic. If I take the streets, the commute is longer, but the frustration of idly sitting in a frozen freeway lane is absent and traffic lights are my only obstacle. There are parts of East L.A. that are lined with crosswalks, and worse yet, pedestrians using them. Once again, prepared for the trip, I accept that traffic cannot fly through these areas and that progress is not rushed; but nevertheless, it is steady. Taking the street route denotes that I will need to stop and wait at dozens of traffic lights on the way home. Once again, to be expected, and thus not surprising, hence, not stressful. Traffic lights are predictable. Unlike the freeway antiflow of stop-and-go where traffic seems to randomly stop with no apparent reason that can be discerned by craning your neck, traffic lights offer no unexplained obstacles. The light turns green, cars move. It turns red, they stop. Simplicity is one of the strongest stress combatants.
So tonight, a street night, my commute began predictably and “fast” as can be expected. By the time I reached the depths of East L.A’s putrid innermost guts where only the most Mexicanest of all Mexicans dare to go, I was delighted at the swift progress of my commute. I had a dinner on tap that I’d been contemplating all day and I couldn’t wait to start firing up the stove. I was stopped behind several cars at a red light in one of those heavy crosswalk zones. A Maxima in front of me, and in front of him a truck. Visibility of the intersection was non-existent…I could only see the red traffic light. After several moments of waiting, the light turned green and I prepared to commence in the typical predictable manner which brightens my smile. But nothing happened. Cars in neither lane moved. The light was green, damnit. Move motherfuckers. I began to get irritated. I was stuck in traffic at a green light. What was the holdup? This was unexpected and irritating. I craned my neck but the truck blocked my view. Finally, from the side of the road materialized an anxious-looking white guy. White guys on foot in this section of East L.A. are indeed a splendid novelty to behold. He looked anxious and he was approaching cars randomly and looking underneath them. Quite possibly a dangerous schizo. He was a tall and skinny fellow with ordinary features, but isn’t that how crazy people look? He doubled back and still traffic didn’t budge. Impatience rose in my chest.
After retreating out of sight, he returned to the next lane and I finally saw the object of his pursuit…a black bushy-haired mongrel that refused capture. Every time he approached the dog, it ran away, whimpering. The fucking dude kept chasing the dog and in this span of time, I think the light cycled one more time. Him and his little wannabe pet finally disappeared and traffic moved forward very haltingly once the light changed to green. Still too slow for my taste because all the drivers ahead of me seemed compelled to slow down in order to rubberneck. I’m not quite sure which was the bigger spectacle…a white guy in East L.A. or some mangy mutt that was obviously stray and lost. Or the fact that somebody driving through the barrio took precious commuting time to chase around after some stupid dog down, and in the process, hold up commuters on their way home. When I passed him, the guy was heading back to his car where an equally white female stood waiting. He must have stopped his car so he could jump out and run around this street trying to rescue the dog. Can someone say SWPL Animal Rescue??? Goddamnit, I just wanted to get home and my delicious dinner. I guarantee you that most Mexican drivers wouldn’t stop in their own neighborhood to chase down a dog. They would just keep driving or swerving to avoid the splatter of guts fouling their undercarriage.
Not the animal savior.
What is it with white people and their animals? I need to get home damnit.