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In a recession, watch out for crashes

Two drivers on life's bumpy highway learn a lesson about compassion.

February 24, 2009|DANA PARSONS

If this encounter hasn't happened yet, don't worry: It will.

A local thoroughfare, a collision. Two angry drivers, each carrying a little extra weight -- let's call them Harvey and Floyd -- pop out of their cars, eager to square off.

Harvey: I've been driving for 45 years and you have got to be the worst driver I've ever seen.

Floyd: You've been driving for 45 years? I would have guessed 45 minutes. Are you telling me you didn't see me next to you when you changed lanes?

Harvey: You were in my blind spot, you moron. Did you really have to be driving the exact same speed I was, just so I wouldn't see you?

Floyd: You're a walking blind spot, pal. And right, I was driving the same speed in the hopes that you'd hit me. That's just how I wanted to spend my afternoon, arguing with you on the side of the road and with a ripped bumper and a crease down the side of my car.

Harvey: You may have noticed I no longer have a side-view mirror, thanks to you. Not to mention what this will do to my insurance. It's guys like you that make life tough.

Floyd: You have no idea what tough is. Tough is foreclosing on your house, which happened to my wife and me six weeks ago. You have any idea what it's like living with your mother-in-law at this age? Not to mention carrying a refrigerator down two flights of stairs because you don't want to pay for movers.

Harvey (softening a bit): Really? You were foreclosed on? Geez, I'm genuinely sorry to hear that. I lost my job last week. Been working for the company for 26 years, vice president. They whacked me and seven people who worked for me. They were like family. I swear I did not see it coming.

Floyd: Sort of like not seeing me in the next lane?

Harvey: Are you trying to be funny?

Floyd: Sorry. Actually, I was. Seriously, that bites. Twenty-six years, huh? We were in our house for only 18 months. It was going to be our retirement home. The final act in the dream, you know what I mean?

Harvey: I hear you. We still have several years on our mortgage, and now I'm out of work. I'm guessing there's not a huge market for 61-year-old heating-and-cooling company vice presidents.

Floyd: How's the retirement kitty?

Harvey: Don't ask. Another grand plan shot to hell. It's way down; in fact, I was just saying to my wife a couple weeks ago that at least I'm still working. So much for that.

Floyd: What's going on in the world? I'm 53 and have a kid who thinks he's going to college in the fall. Not unless he suddenly turns in a 4.4 in the 40-yard-dash and can bench-press 250 pounds.

Harvey: Did you ever picture yourself in this situation?

Floyd: You mean having you clip my car?

Harvey: No, I mean talking about no college for your kid, losing your home, living with your mother-in-law.

Floyd: Can't say that I did. Where did we get the idea that the basics were actually safe? You know, weird things like a job, a house, a retirement plan, college for the kids?

Harvey: Beats me. If you'd have told me a year ago that I'd be looking for a job and worrying about keeping my house, I'd have laughed at you. I've worked in an office all my life. I'm not sure I can do anything else, even if anybody was hiring.

Floyd: You must have sacked groceries or parked cars or waited tables at some point in your life.

Harvey: Yeah, when I was 19.

Floyd (grinning): Well, just tell them you bring a lifetime of experiences to the job.

Harvey (patting him on the shoulder and smiling): You're right. I used to valet-park, and I didn't care how I treated the cars.

Floyd: After seeing you in action behind the wheel, I'm not sure I'd recommend you for that particular job. Might I suggest the grocery sacking trade?

Harvey (belly-laughing): Touche, my friend. You're right, I should have been paying closer attention. To tell you the truth, I was a little distracted, just thinking about stuff.

Floyd: With what you're going through, who could blame you?

Harvey: Hey, everybody's got it rough.

Floyd: Tell you what. I know a guy who does auto body work for a great price. Probably cost you less than your deductible. You interested?

Harvey: Hey, I appreciate that.

Floyd: Consider it done. Hey, you want to go have a drink?

Harvey: Sounds good. I'm glad I ran into you.

Floyd: That's a good one. Drinks are on me. You don't mind driving, do you?

--

dana.parsons@latimes.com

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