It was the middle of crunch time on the last day of editing when the phone rang. By looking at the phone number, I knew it was the people from my next gig. The gig that I didn't want, but the gig that I needed. "I have to take this call" I told the room full of clients as I walked out of the room. I didn't look back to see if it was okay that nobody was sitting in the editor's chair.
"Hello?" "Hi, Lee? This is Lisa." I already knew it was Lisa before I answered the call. "Oh hi Lisa, how's it going?" "Good. So we were wondering if you could come by and meet the director today." I knew she wasn't going to understand, much less hire me, if I said no. The gig started tomorrow. So I said "Sure. Can we meet at 1:30?" Lisa said yes and I was soon back in the editor's chair in crunch time.
The lunch menu soon landed in front of me. CPK. I quickly flashed forward in my mind to how I'd manage to fit a trip through a drive-through on my way back from meeting Lisa and the director. "I think I'm gonna have to step out for lunch today" I told the client services gal. "Are you sure?" she said as she took the menu away. "Thanks" I said, as I imagined how hungry I'd be after not making it through the drive-through. It just didn't feel right to order lunch, when I'd be leaving during crunch time. The coffee's for closers only.
The alarm on my phone went off at 1:12 pm. Just enough time to blast out of the parking lot in Culver City and onto the 10 freeway Westbound toward Santa Monica. I figured that the freeway was the best option, even though getting to the freeway would be the hard part. Merging onto any freeway in Los Angeles is tough, but the on-ramp at Robertson has to be one of the worst. You must start from a dead stop at a light, going uphill, and in a race against the car next to you to get a full car length ahead before the two lanes turn into one 50 feet ahead.
Once you've passed that test, you get to face the full-on Road Warrior treatment as you merge onto the 10 freeway with cars going at least mach 5, trying to fit into the blur before your on-ramp lane becomes an off-ramp lane about a quarter mile away.
On this day, the cars in the rightmost lane were ambling along at around 40 mph, making it even more difficult to merge, but I managed to pull it off. In my rearview mirror I saw a clearing all the way to the leftmost lane. Not a single car in sight. I pulled the advanced driver maneuver of going straight to the fast lane (the left one, not to be confused with any lane in Los Angeles) and I was almost there when I heard somebody lay on their horn from behind me. I looked in my rearview and there was a silver station wagon rapidly slowing down, I suppose to avoid being slammed into by yours truly. Where the hell did that car come from?
I had no clue, but I put my hand up to flash the "Sorry, I'm a dumbass" sign anyway. I accelerated so's not to get rammed, or shot, but mainly to get to this meeting. The left lane was clear sailing as I passed over the 405. I needed to get off at the Centinela exit, so I had to move fast.
I again checked my rearview, did the head check, and I didn't see a single car around. Turned on the right blinker and pulled the advanced driver maneuver of going straight to the exit lane, and I was almost there when I heard somebody lay on their horn from behind me. I looked in my rearview and there was a silver audi sedan rapidly slowing down, I suppose to avoid being slammed into by yours truly. Where the hell did that car come from?
I had no clue, but again I put my hand up to flash the "Sorry, I'm a dumbass" sign anyway. I accelerated so's not to get rammed, or shot, but mainly to get to the meeting. As I approached the exit, I noticed the silver wagon I almost ran off the road back there. It was quickly approaching in my rearview. And it appeared that the wagon was doing whatever it could to get off at the same exit I was. Oh shit, I thought. I was going to die.
My hopes of making it through the light at the end of the off ramp were dashed. I slowed to a stop, and the silver wagon pulled up behind me. I kept my eye on the rearview mirror, to see if I needed to make a break for it if the driver should exit his car with pistol in hand. But to my surprise, all I saw was the driver fluffing his hair in his own rearview mirror. Disaster averted.
I made my left turn and drove toward the meeting place. One last maneuver to make: A left turn on a blind corner that I knew well. It always pissed off the rest of the cars not making that left turn, especially ones behind the left turn car. I hoped for no oncoming traffic, but no dice. I waited, and I looked in my rearview once more. The silver wagon was gone. But the silver Audi sedan was fast approaching. Why the hell are these people following me? The Audi pulled around to my right, just inches from my car, honking the entire time. And the driver gave me the finger. I laughed. I love it when people flip me the bird.