Hit And Stay

It was exactly this exciting.

I hit a skateboard-riding hipster with The Mystery Wagon this afternoon. I usually try to think of a snappy or intriguing way to start the blog in order to draw the Facebook crowd to Blogspot, but never before have I had a dynamite hook like this one just drop into my lap. And to think, all I had to do was hit some poor soul with my car to do it!

I’m pretty fond of my apartment complex, all things considered, but my biggest complaint is that the alley behind the units where we all park is a real nightmare – it’s cramped, there aren’t any clearly delineated parking spaces, and it’s always full of the neighbors’ kids scampering around and playing, which is awesome for them* but bad for the guy trying to move his car without inadvertently ruining somebody’s quinceanera.

*I am so fucking jealous of the kids who live in my apartment complex. There’s probably about 20 of them, none of them any older than 13, and every weekend and afternoon after school they’re out there in the alley sprinting around, screaming, shooting each other with squirt guns, playing football… These kids are having literally the perfect childhood. They’re getting exercise, they live on the same block as all their best friends, they’re two miles away from a beach, it basically never rains… Lucky bastards. Some of us had to grow up in Oregon and be fat, but they don’t even know.

Particularly treacherous are the narrow easements between the building that allow access between the alley and the street. Not only has the challenge of making the tight, blind turn into a narrow easement resulted in several people scraping up their cars (myself included), but when it spits you out at the street you’ve got basically no idea who’s coming up the sidewalk because you’re hemmed in by buildings on both sides. My solution is usually to go really slowly and think happy thoughts, which had been working like gangbusters until today.

I was inching out from between the buildings at about two miles an hour, looking first to the left to see if there was anybody coming up the sidewalk from that direction. Fortunately, there wasn’t – unfortunately, a couple of 20something hipsters on longboards were zooming up the sidewalk from the right, not paying attention, and I only saw them when they were right in front of me.

They saw me at the same time that I saw them, and we all three shat bricks. I jammed on the brakes to slow my two miles per hour of momentum, and one of the two hipsters hopped off of his skateboard, scrambling out of the way. I’m not sure whether the other just fell off of his skateboard in fright or if the bumper of my car actually nudged him off – the point is, I watched a guy collapse against the hood of my car and then slide out of view, which is a pretty disturbing thing to see on a Sunday afternoon when you’re trying to go to the mall.

The hipster who’d recovered gaped at me and I gaped back.

Holy shit! I thought. This is so going in the blog!

Here’s how shitty of a person I am: For about a tenth of a second, I found myself just sitting there in the car, running through my escape options. Worst case scenario, I had slightly nudged a guy who whizzed out in front of my car, and my immediate reaction was to fret about how long it would take me to grab my passport before hitting the 405 South towards Mexico and get a job as an emcee at a donkey show in Tijuana or something. Basically, I don’t so much have a ‘fight or flight’ reflex as I have a ‘flight, possibly while screaming’ reflex.

But I overpowerd my fear, shut off the car, and hopped out, spouting all the post-accident bullshit I could think of, most of which included the word ‘sorry.’

The hipster who’d gone down was lying on his back on the sidewalk, eyes shut, taking some deep breaths. His friend and I probably didn’t do him too many favors by hovering over him and saying, “Are you okay? Are you okay? Should we call 911? Are you okay?”

Presently, he sat up. “I’m good, man, don’t worry. I should’ve been looking.” He turned to his friend. “Dude, give me a beer.”

His friend produced a beer from his pocket – a useful friend indeed – and handed it to him. “Beer makes everything better,” he grinned.

Even though it wasn’t my fault, I still felt bad. These guys were both being really friendly about the whole thing and appropriately self-medicating with beer, and I felt bad that I’d been a party to their otherwise awesome Sunday getting suddenly more complicated and painful. Plus, how the hell do you leave a situation where you’ve almost run somebody over?

”Well, uh, sorry about the whole ‘almost ran you over’ thing. I guess be more careful next time? So, uh… Bye! Good luck not getting hit by any more cars!

“Hey,” I said as the fallen hipster got to his feet and took a long pull on the beer. “I’ve got some more beer inside. Let me grab you one; it’s the least I can do.”

Both of these guys weren’t going to turn down beer, so I scampered back into my apartment and threw open the fridge. In there we had one of those huge bottles of some craft brewed Porter that one of our friends had bought and left at the house weeks ago. I grabbed it and ran back outside, where both hipsters were getting ready to remount their boards, seemingly no worse for wear.

“Here’s this.” I said, handing them the beer. “It’s a Porter, so… Yeah.”

They were both impressed at the quality of the beer and thanked me several times as I headed back to my car. Before I got in, the dude I’d almost hit/slightly nudged shook my hand.

“Sorry again.” I said. “Enjoy the beer.”

He laughed. “It’s cool. Don’t trip.”

I got back into the car, congratulating myself on yet another successful human interaction. “Y’know, I won’t trip! Have a great day!”

So I drove off to the mall, windows down and fresh sea hair blowing through The Mystery Wagon, watching in my rear view mirror as the two hipsters made their way down the sidewalk again, passing the bottle back and forth.

I hit a guy with my car and then used craft brewed beer to smooth things over. I solve my problems Portland style.

Truman Capps is still not a beer drinker, but he appreciates its use in diplomacy.