Another morning commute through the aerospace corridor in the South Bay of L.A. Another stop at the intersection of El Segundo and Aviation. I looked left and right. No Plymouth Fury and no Chevy Impala. I hadn’t seen either Steve Douglas or Ward Cleaver for quite a while. Then I looked again. Over to my right was a late-model Chevy Malibu, and, hey, that’s Ward Cleaver. I rolled down the window.
“Ward! New ride, man?”
“No, uh, the Fury’s in the shop.”
“Oh? The Beaver bump into the mailbox again?”
“No. I had a bit of a collision.” And here Ward, displaying the career commuter’s well-trained instincts, settled in behind the wheel to tell a tale, knowing to the second how long it would be until the light changed. “It was over at Sepulveda and Mariposa last week. Some kid — you know, one of the backpackers who all stay over at the hotel there when they come in to LAX. He started crossing the street, wearing his ear buds, never looking at the light. The guy to my right had started to turn right on Mariposa, spotted him at the last moment and swerved left and hit me. That driver was talking on a cell phone and didn’t even see the kid ’til the last moment. I stopped, of course, and then the guy behind me, who was texting on HIS phone rear-ended me and shoved me over into the car on my left, where the woman driving THAT car was fixing her eyelashes with one of those big curlers. She sustained a terrible injury.”
“Oh, man, Ward. That’s terrible. I hope those guys who were on their cell phones and texting had some sort of insurance?”
“Oh, no. The police showed up in just a few minutes and cited me for running into the first car and causing the accident. The woman with the eye injury is suing me for ten million dollars.”
“Ward! This can’t happen! You’re a victim, not a criminal. Are you fighting this?”
“Oh, uh,” and he looked down. “Excuse me. This is my attorney who’s calling,” and he put his cell phone to his ear. I left him there, sitting at the intersection, talking to his lawyer.