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Published by Juliet Annerino

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Published by: Juliet Annerino on Sep 05, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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4:45pm, the Friday on the edge of Labor Day weekend, driving downthe 101 in LA. Not only rush hour, but just about everyone in their cararound me was bent with a steely determination to get out of the city,alive. In race-car record time. I was feeling lucky to be comfortablycruising at about 60mph in my little red Porsche 944.Not a care in the world. I was in the freakin' flow, concentrating, andfeeling confident. I was practicing my Italian, answering as accuratelyas I could to the Italian woman loudly demanding the equivalents of "Iam" (Io sono!), "He is" (Egli è!), "She is"... when I noticed " I WAS"losing speed, and quickly. I switched gears. Nothing. I turned the keyagain in the ignition. She turned over nice for me but when I gentlypushed down the accelerator, nothing. Finally over the Italian woman'sdemands for "We are!" I heard in a universal language, the deep,guttural bellow of a horn from directly behind me. There, looming like an elephant in my rearview mirror, was the mostmassive semi I'd ever seen, and it was gaining on me at top speed. Iswitched off the Italian woman. The guy in the Mac truck laid on hishorn again. He must have been wondering why I - being in the 2nd tothe far left lane, (gravitating towards the "fast lane", as is my way)would suddenly slow down from 60 mph to a limping 30, then ahelpless 20...I was hoping this trucker had a good set of brakes,because I was losing speed quickly now. I kept trying to restart myengine and get into gear, but her transmission wouldn’t engage. Shewas dead.I was on my own, in the middle of dense, fast-moving traffic,surrounded by impatient people, each eager to escape the City for arare 3-day weekend. I suddenly felt like a wounded gazelle, surroundedby a pack of angry wolves. And the howl of their horns was increasing,too. I rolled down the window and put my hand out to try to getsomeone on my left to let me coast into their lane, so I wouldn't beblocking as much traffic. My turn signal didn't seem to be doing anygood. I thought that maybe if they saw my hand flailing out of thewindow, they'd get the hint that I was not just being a smart-ass, that Iwas really in trouble. No luck. The cars on my left continued to whiz byme, at what seemed like incredibly crazy speeds.In my rear-view mirror, there was still that huge semi, uncomfortablyclose and closing in faster by the milli-second. I was beyond afraid thathe'd smash me like an insignificant insect on the pavement. I'd simply
let go of any sense of terror, as I'd let go of any expectations of himactually stopping in time. My car had come to a complete stop in thethird lane of traffic on the 101, just before the busy intersection of the134. There were five lanes of carnivorous traffic at this point, yet onlyone safe haven of a shoulder on the far right. I was, however, just onelane away from the far left.I gave up hope of making it across three lanes of violent traffic, feelinga faint wave of relief and very lucky that somehow - magically - I hadnot been flattened by the semi truck. I resolved that soon, I'd have tosimply make a scene in the middle of the highway, during rush hour ona Friday, and again defy death itself, by standing there with my stilland silent little sports car, as I waited for triple A to arrive and tow me,hoping again, that one of the revving cars, breezing past me nowwould be able to see me in time to avoid obliterating me and my littlered ride.Suddenly, I heard a man's voice yell to me. I rolled down my otherwindow to hear what he was saying. "Put her in neutral so me and thisguy can push you to the shoulder!". It was the trucker shouting to mefrom the far right lane! My eyes followed him, as he climbed down fromthe cab of his 18-wheeled beast, and ran across the freeway towardmy car. And there on the 101 was an amazing sight. This trucker hadsomehow maneuvered his rig so that its huge cargo body was at anear 45-degree angle, jack-knifed, cutting across the entire freeway,blocking all three lanes for me, clearing a safe passage to the far rightcurb. His behemoth truck stretched across the entire freeway. Funny,but I don't remember a single horn honking at us. Not a single sound,in fact. I believe not the flapping of a sparrow's wing would daredisturb the hallowed, surreal silence of that moment. It seemed that allof LA might just be in awe of this amazing act of highway heroics. Iwas.I hardly had time for much awe, as I felt my car being pushed frombehind by the two men. I turned the wheel sharply to the right to steerher onto the shoulder. As soon as I'd stopped, the men went runningback across the freeway to their respective vehicles. I barely had timeto shout "thank you" to them, before they were both gone. It allhappened so fast that I could not even remember what they lookedlike.I dialed triple A for assistance from my cell, popped my hood and gotout of the car in the searing heat to take a look at her insides. I don'tknow much about cars, but I thought having the bright red hood upmight help Triple A to find me. Strangely enough, what was wrongwith her, seemed almost painfully obvious. The metal clamp securing a

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