Only in LA

Remember, back in December, when I wrote an “only in LA” post about how someone had set up valet parking on my street?

Well, this afternoon I witnessed another car-related incident to add to my list of “only in LA”s, and it’s a lot less amusing than the other one.

I had come to campus around eleven-thirty to meet people for lunch. It was very hot and I was wondering if we’d be eating someplace with air conditioning. I parked my car, put on my sunglasses, left the garage, and was walking down the sidewalk to the Faculty Center when I heard sirens. A minute later a car came screaming round the corner onto the very street I was walking on. My first thought was, “Wow, that guy’s really in a hurry to get out of the way of the police.” In the next second, he looked at me and I at him, and as our eyes met several things happened all at once: I realized he was fleeing from the police; I dimly grasped that I didn’t know why the police were chasing him and that he might be some kind of maniac out on a spree–I realized that if he’d had a gun out the window he could have shot me, I realized if he didn’t care to keep on the road he could have plowed me down–and I understood, also, in that same second, that if he’d wanted to do either of those things I would be dead right now and it would have all happened before I’d even known what was going on. An instant later, his car was already screeching down the road behind me, and after another second, a police motorcycle and two police cars followed in hot pursuit. Shaken, my heart pounding, my feet continued walking, propelling me down the street to my lunch meeting as if to them it were just an ordinary day, and it was only my brain and eyes that had participated in something unusual.

I didn’t even know my brain could process all those things in a split second like that, but I guess our survival instincts still kick in when there’s danger. Not that it would have helped me. I think I might have been able to hit the ground quickly enough if I’d actually seen a gun in his hand, but then again I might not have, and if he’d wanted to run me over there would have been no escape at all. Of course, if he didn’t want to get caught (and it didn’t look like he did), it would have been imbecilic beyond belief for him to take the time out to kill me, but if he had been ready to give up and didn’t care how many people he took with him, it would have been all over for me before I could have figured it out. There wasn’t even time for an adrenaline rush. I was on the sidewalk and he was one lane away.

You hear about car chases on TV, and I guess Angelenos see them occasionally on the highway, but I can now tell you from personal experience: being a pedestrian right next to a car chase is a damn terrifying experience.

You know, now that I think of it, I wonder if that’s why I recklessly bought two brioches this afternoon while I was at the farmers’ market. I’ve been really monitoring my eating lately, I mean really, but when I bought the brioches today I thought it was just the heat (and the vendor’s endearing French accent) that made me loose my usual discipline. Now that I’ve written this entry, though, I wonder if it wasn’t that moment of danger that made me subconsciously much less concerned about a small matter like my weight and much more inclined to accept one of life’s pleasures when it’s offered me. I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility.

And they are incredibly delicious brioches. One has custard in it, and the other has raspberry.

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at]