Last night I was rear ended. It was late at night… and I was approached by a group of hooded men just south of the Mojave desert. I don’t know if they were former sex offenders as I have no memory of their faces or voices. It was pitch black and I had very little time to react. If this is disturbing you so far, please read on, because that was all fictional foreplay meant to shake you up or even confuse you a little. That feeling of random disarray is truly how I felt last night, but in actuality, I got rear ended the old fashioned way. In a car, by another car. No offense to Boys Don’t Cry fans, I was just warming up, okay?
Pump up those sympathy levels because I’m going to give it to you straight now. The accident happened a little after 11:30pm in Silverlake. The cause was trivial: Some dude going 5 miles an hour at a green light just past a curve. Luckily, I saw him in enough time to slam on the breaks and just avoided hitting him. Through his back window it was clear he was still texting and advancing forward to hit his max of 10 miles an hour. Before I could gather the thought, “what an imbecile”, my car got smashed from behind by the next driver, who wasn’t as quick to react.
It was a rough impact and luckily none of us were immediately injured. I was shocked, discombobulated, and very heated. The guy that hit me was in control and claimed fault immediately. Coincidentally, he happened to be a claims adjuster for State Farm. So he knew exactly how to handle the situation. We shared his last cigarette as he broke down the damage estimates on both our ends, and what we could expect. It was conveniently informative but strange as hell since I was so dazed.
My insurance company called me a tow truck that took about an hour to arrive. In that time, I discovered that the site of the accident had sort of a nostalgic value for me. It was the first location I scouted for my film, The Moonlit Road back in 2007. Here’s a few pictures we took that night:
Delightfully creepy, no? We never actually ended up using this location in the final film. Between that time and my accident last night, I’ve passed through it a handful of times, always wondering what to shoot there. But it looks like reality dished out bigger cinematics than any scene I could have chosen for the screen. The backdrop of real life drama works in mysterious ways.
After an hour long wait, the tow truck arrived. I was still in film mode, thinking about my work, the movies I love, the stories I want to make one day, etc. Mind you I was really out of it. So as the tow guy secured my car to the vehicle, I got a little Grand Canyon flashback and thought of the philosophical talk Kevin Kline has with Danny Glover about how L.A. has gone to shit. I just happened to be talking about this film an hour prior (more like any hour prior) so I was totally ready to relive the scene in real life by starting a late night conversation with a complete stranger.
But my tow truck driver was no Danny Glover. He looked more like Big Pun. After just one sentence, I got the hint that he was a fan of silence. He was a big guy and I wasn’t going to upset him. As I stated earlier, if there was a backdoor version of the incident and I was Hillary Swanked in the Mojave desert, this guy would have been cast as the deviant ring (or rim?) leader.
Ten minutes into the ride, he interrupted our quiet time by putting on ‘Benny and the Jets’. And he just let it play. I was thinking, oh, he probably uses this classic rock station for emergency situations, like talkative white guys who need to calm down. I was cool with being in that category for the next 20 minutes. When the song finished, there were no radio commercials. He was rocking Elton John’s best of on disc! By the time we arrived at my place, we had digested ‘Rocket Man’ and ‘Take Me To the Pilot’. I’m happy Big Pun was there to surprise me. It was like getting scared in the middle of a hiccup. As a result, my lingering shell shock from the car accident went down a notch and my faith in L.A. culture was fully restored.