Sixteen: Even Idiots Can Drive Them

Posted: November 12, 2012 in The Road to Skid Row

“Don’t worry, they make these so even idiots can drive them,” Navid laughed.

I felt my hand shaking as I turned the ignition. How big of an idiot will that make me?

I only passed my driving test four months before and now I was about to drive a U-Haul truck down Sunset Blvd. This was the first time I had driven a vehicle larger than a Peugeot 505 and just the second time I had driven in a city, let alone a city with a notoriously aggressive driving culture and an infamous disregard for traffic law. I was fucked.

I followed Navid’s silver Honda onto Sunset. Stay on the right, stay on the right, stay on the right. Once I got on Sunset I could relax. Just drive straight, just follow Navid. It was easy, dull even. Driving in this city is like driving a train, I thought to myself smugly. I read every billboard I drove past; my eyes lingered on them, then flicked to the next. A big sign advertising Fatburger appeared. Mmm, Fatburger. I could really go for one of those. I wonder how fat they really are? Can’t be worse than Mc…  Red light! Shit!

I slammed on the breaks and stopped a patty’s width from Navid’s bumper. Phew, that was close. Before I had time to think the light turned green and I was back on the gas. We drove further down and finally turned off into Stor-Quest and unloaded our stuff.

As I started the engine for the journey back I was more confident. I followed Navid onto Sunset again, heading east. Everything was going easy until it started raining. Rain? In Los Angeles?  This wasn’t just rain, it was one of those freak rain storms that blow over the Los Angeles Basin soaking everything within five minutes and flooding whole neighbourhoods. My wipers were going nuts but still couldn’t part the water for more than a millisecond.

Navid was a couple cars ahead by now, so I followed his brake lights from a distance. Suddenly, I lost him. Where is he? I panicked and slammed on the breaks. Irate drivers pummeled their horns and sped past me waving their fuck you fingers. I sucked in some air and started again. Hands on the wheel, foot on the gas. I saw him, finally. He was less than twenty feet ahead, waiting in the U-Haul parking lot. I slapped my signal on and swerved abruptly right to a chorus of more honking and middle fingers. I pissed off every driver in East Hollywood but I made it. Navid parked the truck for me – I couldn’t face driving it again– and dropped off the keys.

“You guys want to grab a Fatburger?” Navid asked.

We ate our burgers while trying to ignore the obese family sitting in front of us. I almost crashed a U-Haul truck into my sister and her friend because of this burger. Imagine crashing a car because you were drooling over a fast food sign? That wouldn’t fly back in the old country; you would be a laughing stock.

Looking at the family ahead, I got the impression people here would be more sympathetic.

Nom, nom, nom.

Tune in on Thursday for the next installment of The Road to Skid Row.

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