Thursday, June 19, 2008

Yao Ming. SUV. Teen Sex. OK, maybe not...

When I was at the Chron, I used to joke that the way to get people to read your blog was to put Yao Ming, SUV and Teen Sex in the search words. I want you to read this one, but for a different reason.

Today's topic was supposed to be a reset of my now infamous Vegas trip, the Czech prostitute/wheelchair prostitute daily double. (No I didn't, but they are both funny).

And my good buddy Virtual Val suggested something on how stupid racehorse names are. I like that and will do some research. I think that will be funny. Will probably reset that on the show Saturday.

And today's blog isn't about me. It's about you.

I've blogged before about the neighborhood I drive through to get to the station. I've made light of it, but I'm usually pretty aware of my surroundings, even when I am not awake.

There's an intersection on the way -- Triola and Gessner -- that frankly scares me. It's poorly lit. On one side is a bus stop, the other very poor housing. Triola is a street no one ever drives on, but the light is always red for a minute. My spider senses go off every time I stop there. It's one of those lights that stops a busy street (Gessner) for a quiet street, and there is no reason to sit there for a minute.

I have seen some strange things there. Prostitutes, pimps, gang bangers.

Today I saw a gun pointed at my head.

I was sitting at the light, listening to last Sunday's show again, pissed because I thought it sucked. I was pissed because I was running late because I overslept goofing off online too late the night before with my virtual horse buddies. I was worried about money and bills and everything stupid that I never worry about.

And then there he was. A kid. Maybe 20, maybe not. But his face was old, full of lines. He looked angry.

It's funny, I never really looked at the gun. He walked up to the window and was screaming for me to get out of the car. I was sure the gun was pointed at me, but I wasn't really looking.

I was looking at his eyes. Empty. Soulless. They reminded me of a drug dealer who tried to jack me when I was 12 years old (that ended badly for the drug dealer).

The whole thing lasted a matter of seconds, but it seemed like slow motion. His voice was muffled to me, angry. For some reason I thought of Charlie Brown's teacher.

And I wasn't scared, oddly enough. I just quickly glanced to the right to make sure a car wasn't coming, then floored the Accord, pointed it in the right direction and ducked under the dash, expecting to hear gunshots.

I heard nothing but my own stupid voice making a silly joke on my show.

I don't know if he fired or not. I just knew I was going to make myself a small, moving target. If he got me, he got me. Good luck. Just like poker -- make the best decision and live with the result.

Or in this case, maybe not live.

I got about 20 feet past the light and popped up, just in time to avoid the center curb. I was already going 50 miles an hour. I stayed at 50 until I got to the next light, a couple miles away. I calmly dialed 9-1-1, told them what happened, and proceeded to work.

Parked. Walked in. Said hello to Abel. Kidded with Marcus. Prepped for my Sportscenters. Checked email. Signed on Facebook. Went to get coffee.

Then I saw my hands were shaking.

I was never scared until then, because it reminded me of how one tiny little thing can change your life. One wrong place, wrong time. If I leave a minute sooner, maybe I never see him. If I had reacted differently, maybe I don't get out of there.

But I was shaking because I was worried about the next person at that intersection. Yeah, I called the cops, but who knows? What if he got somebody else before they got there?

What if it was a nurse on her way to a clinic? Or a maid who doesn't speak English? Or a high school kid going to a summer job? Somebody small, frail, weak. Somebody who wouldn't think to gun it and go.

Or what if it was one of you? One of the people I care about?

The point of this is something I tell my friends all the time; don't put yourself in dangerous positions where people can hurt you. Many of my friends are brilliant people with the common sense of a mop. It drives me nuts the silly stuff they do, not being aware of their surroundings.
There are so many bad people out there. Predators. Not necessarily bad people, but desperate.

Desperation is dangerous.

One second -- one mistake -- can change your life. You see it every day in the police reports. One wrong turn on the highway and you get t-boned. One too many drinks behind the wheel and you hit a pedestrian and change someone's life forever. Your and theirs.

No, this blog isn't about me. My day is back on track. I was reminded as always not to sweat the little things so much, which I rarely do anyway. And to be smart. I'll take another route in the future, get up 10 minutes earlier. It's just a short note in the life of Freddy.

No, this is about you.

Be aware of your surroundings. Don't put yourself in positions that could go bad. As a favor to uncle Freddy, just use some common freaking sense. Because I worry how some of you would react and what might happen to you.

I was stupid. I have been worried about that intersection for weeks. Maybe because I knew that, I wasn't surprised and was able to act without thinking.

But I should have never been there. No one should. At 5:15 in the morning, there's nothing anyone can do to help you.

Maybe he would have just taken my car and left. Maybe it would have been worse.

But it wasn't. I'm back to being goofy, thinking how I can get Yao Ming, SUV and teen sex in this blog. My updates have been flawless. Abel and I got a good laugh out of it.

I don't believe in living in fear. But it reminded me how much I worry about the people I care about. How much I fear for them.

How much I fear for you.

How much I hope you never have to look into those eyes and see hopeless desperation. And if you do, it ends like this did, as a simple footnote. No one was hurt.

At least I hope no one was.

I will be checking the police reports, hoping not to read about someone else at that intersection.

And going on with my life, being Uncle Freddy.

For another day.


Sandy said...

WOW Fred, that was a serious drive in to work. Glad you are ok.
Its funny how we stop and ponder things in life for a moment and think, "this isn't right, this should change" and yet when the light turns green, we just carry on and don't give it another thought until something like this happens then we think again "this isn't right, this should change".
Fear is a good motivator sometimes!!

David Jack said...

holy. crap. fred.

i am so glad you are ok. and thanks for the good words.

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