I sat at my window smoking a cigarette, listening to Nina Simone's "You'll Never Walk Alone", a song I used to listen to in Honduras when I got lonely, never knowing the title of the song until I got back to Seattle. I was reflecting on the day's events, on how I need to reevaluate what has happened to me this past week and hating myself for yelling at my family. It's just not right. But the human organism can only take so much at a time. At least until it learns to handle more.
I've been back for a little over a week and the world looks differently to me. I see, feel, experience every moment. I can finally say that, well, I am happy. I realized that if you're just nice to people, you receive niceness back. People here in the US are just bred to grow up mistrusting the world and just being, mean. I figure, everyone deep down is a good person. You just need to bring it out of them somehow. Like my high school principal said in our graduation speech, "It's nice to be nice."
But sometimes you get disillusioned. You get carried away and you need a reality check. Mine came in the form of spinning out and running into a tree in my sister's boyfriend's Ford Explorer. A good friend of mine flew in from Denver to see her daughter for Christmas and being that her family didn't own any four-wheeled drive vehicles, she asked if I would be willing to pick her up.
I had the choice between my two wheel drive sedan (not happening), my mother's Mercedes that was buried in our garage, or my sister's boyfriend Eric's car that was already sitting in the street, free of snow since we had just dropped him off the night before at the airport. He had given permission to drive the car, so I thought that to be the safest, most logical choice.
I picked up Paia, and like most good friendships, they pick up right where they left off. We had gotten breakfast, shopped for Christmas gifts for her daughter and my mother, sorted out my problems at the bank, and finally headed towards her home.
I figured the street between the 7-11 and Chevron was safe to drive on. It was a flat plane and cars were passing through back and forth. Still, I cautiously drove about 12 miles an hour down the street that was normally regulated at 35. I guess we must of hit a ice spot because I soon lost control, the car spun out of control and eventually ran into a tree.
We called a tow company but being they were backed up due to the numerous crashes, abandonments, and stalls, they wouldn't get to me until tomorrow, if I was lucky. Being that I just ran uncontrollably into a tree at 12 miles an hour, and a local neighbor had his parked car rammed by a driver in a similar situation, I know I didn't want to leave it on the street. We decided to call the police. The public servants. The ones that serve and protect.
As we waited a Dodge Ram approached and the driver asked we would like him to help pull us out. He was Mexican, or South East Asian, I couldn't tell. I just knew he wasn't white. As he attempted to drive around the curb, I heard a glaring megaphone roar, "Sir, if you want to damage city property, I suggest you don't." I approached the officer and tried to explain to her the situation but she just told me, "Well, he can't damage city property in the process." Finally left with no further options and a line of 15 cars waiting behind us, she allowed him through.
During the tow, she then proceeded to ask me the typical questions. Driver's license, registration, insurance card. She asked details about the accident, how fast I was going, where I was going. I told the cop I was going about 10-15 miles an hr. Under her breath she mumbled, "There's no way this was under 15 miles an hr". The white neighbor who had gotten his car hit an hour ago interrupted by saying, "Oh no, I saw about 4 accidents today and all of them were going about that speed." After witnessing more interactions between us and the police officier, he later said, "Wow, she's being really mean to you two."
She wasn't very nice, but given my new revelations, I just figured she's had a rough day since accidents like this were happening all over the city. But then I saw a smile. I saw her joking around with the other white neighbors. When I approached, the smile melted.
(Officer): "You know you're really lucky I'm backed up. If I had more time, I would write you a ticket for reckless driving in hazardous conditions."
(Officer): "It's a serious offense."
(Officer): "No seriously, it's about $550.00 and a day in court."
(Officer): "No. You're really lucky we're backed up. Otherwise I'd write you this ticket."
(Me): "Ok. Thank you officer."
(Officer): "Okay. You have a good day now."
My friend indirectly asked the officer if she could have a ride home by complaining that she now had to walk home in the snow. The officer replied by saying, "That's what you get for being reckless and driving in these conditions." It would have taken her two minutes to drive my friend to her house. Instead she made her walk 30 mins, in the blistering 29ºF weather. She couldn't even carry the "Heeles" she had just bought her daughter. I had to drop them off with the tow driver.
The tow driver and the mechanic were judgmental. I could sense a bit of hesitation in doing business with me. The tow driver kept making sure I had money to pay. The mechanic treated me like I was some posh rich-brat who could "wait at Starbucks" while the car was being fixed. But after just a few exchanges they warmed up to me. They all let me change their minds. The cop was racist. Maybe she had a traumatic experience with people of color. I don't know. But hate like racism, hate that runs that deep in the veins cannot be cured by just a friendly conversation.
I came home and my family was relieved I was okay, but immediately began saying how I shouldn't of picked up my friend, how I shouldn't have ran errands with a car that wasn't mine, how I shouldn't of taken it in the first place. They were right in some respect, although I don't leave a friend stranded, I stopped to pick up a present for my mother, and the owner gave me permission to use the car. Sure I fucked up, but I was hoping for some slack from my own family. I guess I kind of lost it.
I was shitted on by everyone today. By the cops, by the tow driver, by the mechanics and now even by my own family. I had to eat that shit, said it tasted like strawberries and ask for more. Sometimes you just reach a breaking point. But you have to maintain your humanity. You can't let these things kill your hope that this Godforsaken place can still be saved. It just isn't worth it.