By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Photo by Keith MayOne year ago, we asked you to contribute to a new regular feature, "Hey, You!" We invited you to send in your "anonymous thanks, confessions or accusations—changing or deleting the names of the guilty and the innocent." And you did. We got stories of love lost and found, corporate tyranny, personal betrayal, and excessive, four-alarm self-indulgence.
But there was this one outstanding feature: you force-fed us a stream of angry stories related to cars.
It was like drinking from the nozzle of a gasoline pump: "Congestion über alles." "I am a slave to my vehicle." "Rising gas-price blues." "My [car] insurance company fucked me over." "40,000 a year dead."
We received tales of drunks who drive drunk and sober people who drive as if smashed. We received stories of men and women—and kids, even—who distilled every perceived insult on the asphalt into pure nitro and poured it into their gas tanks. We received histories (remember the guy who ran down a mother in a Balboa Peninsula alley—a decade ago?) and current events (open letters to gangbangers, taxi drivers and Caltrans).
Looking for variety in the paper, we held the tales of hell on wheels in a file called "Roadrage," thinking maybe we'd dispense them a little at a time and mix them up with tales of illicit romance or small-time office perfidy. But "Roadrage" ballooned. Reading it was nightmarish, like a marathon viewing of snuff films, as if our own sunny existence at the Weekly was underpinned by a petroleum-driven alternative world in which cars drive humans. Now it's clear the stories are a story; now it's time to share the pleasure.
MINE'S BIGGER THAN YOURS
I was the guy in the Miata. You were the guy in the empty flatbed trying to merge onto the 57 near Katella last week. Remember me? The guy who waved you onto the freeway, slowed down to let you in, and then flashed my lights to indicate that you had room to get on? You were the guy who, perhaps mistaking my friendly wave, slid open the window on the back of your cab to wave a peashooting pistol—probably some piece-of-shit Saturday night special you got to impress your dumb-ass friends. I was the guy who reached into my glove compartment to show you my Glock 9 mm. In the future, you might try being the guy who assumes the best about other drivers.
A few years ago, angry over a girl, you beat the shit out of my car with a baseball bat. You had warned her you were going to do it, but when the police showed up, it was her word against yours. My insurance company covered the damage, so I let it go. Or so I thought. You see, she's left us both now—she abandoned me recently for another guy whose car I'm NOT going to smash with a Louisville Slugger—but I never forgot about your act of blind vengeance. I know I should. I know I shouldn't run shopping carts into the side of your car when I see it in parking lots. Shouldn't drive past your house late at night and run a screwdriver across the hood. Slash your tire. Pour nail-polish remover on your trunk. Put thinner on the new paint job. No, I shouldn't. I used to be in a 12-step program. They taught me better than this. But right now, the need to slowly destroy your car is bigger than me and you put together. My bad.
You were the highflying cyclist riding the wrong way—at night, in dark clothes, down a busy boulevard. I was the woman driving the Ford Expedition who, just before turning right onto an equally busy cross street, stopped suddenly to avoid running into you head-on in the crosswalk. I didn't expect a thanks. But I also didn't expect you to walk your bike alongside my car, pounding on it as you proceeded and cursing me in terms I doubt the Weekly would print. You're probably wondering why I allowed you to bang on my car, why I didn't simply drive away and leave you sputtering in my rear-view mirror. So let me tell you: I was considering opening my glove compartment, pulling out the handgun I keep there, and sticking that gun into your mouth until you forked over whatever money you keep in your expensive-looking riding suit. I battled the temptation. You gambled on a stranger's decency, and this time you won.
In December 1998, you hit my car when you ran a red on Bolsa. You pulled over to inspect the damage and then flexed your muscles—literally. You flexed your biceps and told me you'd kick my ass—"I'll fuck you up," was how you put it—if I called the police. It worked. I didn't call the police, and I borrowed $1,900 to repair my fender. But this isn't an accusatory letter. You may be a pathological asshole, but I'm a coward. I'm still embarrassed about it, and I keep hoping that I'll run into you again. I want to thank you. You revealed to me what I had denied all my life: that I'm afraid, that my whole life —where I go, whom I talk to when I get there, and where I'll work—has been shaped by fear. Since then, I've gotten stronger. Run into my car again, and I'll walk away with your testicles in my purse.