At 10:12am, I sauntered into the train station at Wilshire/Western looking quite smug. Yeah, I’m here to ride the train, I tried to project to the people around me. I do this all of the time. I commute to work with a green mentality… Oh you too? Awesome. We’re the same. We’re so LA, myeh myeh myeh myeh myeh *wiggle my hipster glasses*.
When I hit the top of the stairs heading underground, I heard the terrible sound of an approaching train. I knew instantly that it was mine and that I was going to miss it. As the other panicked passengers and I got to the bottom of the stairs, I saw a Purple Line train shoot right past me. I was five seconds too late. I looked up at the screen to see when the next train was coming, and my heart dropped.
I had to be at work at 10:30am, and the next train wasn’t coming till 10:25am! I’m so screwed, I thought. At this point in the story, I would really like to be cool and blame the LA transit system and say how terrible it is compared to Chicago’s. I’d love to complain that it was totally LA’s fault and not my obviously-city-wired-train-aficionado mind. But that wouldn’t be true. LA’s train is actually amazing, and everyone should take it, and I’ll get off my soap box now.
It was actually all my fault. LA-Jessie is terrible at public transit compared to Chicago-Jessie. I didn’t look up the schedule. I got a little too cocky. And, I got screwed. But, there was nothing to do now. My phone had no service underground; I couldn’t call ahead. All I could do was wait and stress and, eventually, run.
When the train finally came, my heart was racing. It started moving at a snail’s pace, and my stress-level sky rocketed. I was like a horse at the starting line - foaming at the mouth, ready to push the competition out of the way. Just open those gates!
When we arrived at my stop, the doors opened, and I ran. I ran down the platform, up the escalator, and down the street - for three blocks. And then, I realized that I was running in the wrong direction. I was actually running back home. Subconsciously?
Anyway, when I noticed the familiar and wonderfully tacky “diamond” exterior of the Dream Wedding & Banquet Hall on the wrong side of the street, I realized my mistake. I did a screech stop, abrupt turn, and high-tailed it in the other direction. Not my morning.
When I rounded the corner of Commonwealth, I started to calm down. I was so close and only about five minutes late. If I ran the next block, maybe no one would even notice. Then suddenly, as a moth to a flame, I felt the all-too-familiar feeling of my toe meeting a raised piece of sidewalk in front of me.
I don’t know how familiar you are with falling. Let’s just say that I’ve gotten my fall-down-card stamped so many times, I have more than a couple coupons for a free 6-inch cast in my wallet. I was born with feet that were way too small to support my tall body, I wear glasses, and I’m left-handed – a people who are known to actually have a shorter lifespan because of their clumsiness. The odds have been stacked against my balance from the beginning.
The main thing that you need to know about falling is that when you fall, there is a moment, right before you actually go down, when you know that all hope is lost. You give yourself up to the face-plant Gods. It’s a change in balance that is so subtle, you really have to be an expert to sense it - kind of like a Jedi and The Force. And then, suddenly, you are overwhelmed with the knowledge that you cannot prevent what’s about to happen. You must become one with the fall.
This day, however, my body went flying – not falling – flying across the cement. The running really gave me the boost that I needed to propel across the ground instead of just slide. I even had enough momentum to roll over my shoulder G.I. Joe style.
When my body finally settled, my natural first thought was: how many people saw that? The speed of human brains is truly amazing to me, because within one second I had a precise breakdown of the exact situation that I was in. It went something like this:
Estimated Time of Fall: 10:36am. After Rush Hour. Low Traffic.
This is LA. Rush Hour Means Nothing. High Traffic.
On the Corner of Wilshire Blvd. High Traffic.
Next to a Park. High Traffic.
Situation: High Level of Possible Witnesses.
Estimate: At Least 35 Human Beings and 15 birds.
I’m just going to stay like this, I thought to myself. If I close my eyes and stay very, very still, I will just disappear. I will disappear and reappear in my bed with my dignity and a million dollars. Aim high.
But I didn’t disappear. What’s the next step, I asked myself? How am I supposed to get from the position that I’m in now to a normal person walking down the street again? It didn’t seem possible.
Finally, I decided that I should try to do anything at all. So I rolled over and sat up. One of the first things that I that noticed as I became active person again was that my pants were torn at the knee and blood was starting to flow out of the opening. Then, I felt a pain in my shoulder and rolled back my sleeve to find more blood. But, the last thing that I noticed was that my phone was no longer a phone; it was the back panel to a phone. I looked around me, trying to spot the front part. It was nowhere.
At that moment, I heard some laughing from the park next to me. Some teenage hooligans had taken a break from their skateboarding and hooligan-being to notice my fall. (That’s the oldest sentence I’ve ever written.) I turned my head and scowled at them. They were terrible – terrible, little pocket-weenies, wasting their day at the park, goofing off and smoking weed. Go get a job, I wanted to yell at them! No one cares about your garage band and your Converses and your girl jeans!
But then, I noticed something in my eye line - the phone. Apparently, after my phone had smashed against the sidewalk and broken apart, the front end of it had decided to go rogue and make its escape into the park. Due to the rocket-level force in which I had landed, my phone had ended up down a hill, at least twenty feet away.
To my un-astonishment, the park was completely blocked off with an eight-foot-tall metal fence. I couldn't get in unless I walked to the opposite side. Bullshit. I considered climbing it, but with a bleeding leg and arm and a gaggle of pre-pubescent ruffians hoping to witness me fall again, I decided against it. Instead, I did what I do worst, and I swallowed my pride.
I brushed myself off, lifted myself off of the ground, pressed my face against the chain-link fence, and put myself at the mercy of teenagers.
“Please!” I yelled. “Please, can you hand me my phone? It’s on the other side of the fence!”
The hooligans stopped laughing and looked at me.
“Please?” I said again, a little more pathetically.
They looked at each other, and then, amazingly, one of them started walking towards me.
“Oh thank you!” I squealed. “Thank you, it’s right there!” I stretched my bleeding arm through the bars, pointing in the direction of the phone.
When he got close enough to it, the teenager leaned down and picked up my injured phone. But then, to my confusion, he just stood there. I didn’t understand.
“Nope, yep, me! It’s mine! Can you just… can you just hand it to me?” I begged, stretching even further.
The teen looked at his friends. They were saying something to him in Spanish. I couldn’t understand, but it sounded like they were egging him on…huh? The teen looked frozen. He glanced between me and the phone and his friends, over and over and over. Then suddenly, it hit me.
As I was begging him to hand me the phone (with my torn pants and bloody cuts and desperate hand reaching through the fence), it seemed like his punk friends were daring him to STEAL IT FROM ME!
I reacted immediately.
“NO! No, no, no, no!! Don’t do that; just give it to me. Just give me the phone!”
He stood there, with the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. This was his moment.
After a few seconds, the teen finally took one more glance at my phone, turned towards his friends, and yelled something back to them with a laugh. Then, he handed me the phone and walked away.
“Thank you!” I yelled. “Thank you so much. You’re wonderful!”
For some reason, it felt like he was giving me a present rather than just handing me back my phone that I owned and paid for and… OWNED.
Five minutes later, I stumbled into my second day at my new job twenty minutes late, sweat rolling down my face, with bloodied, torn pants, and a bloody shoulder. Like a boss.
I stapled the bloody hole in my pants together and made it through a whole day of introductions and training with my head held high.
And after the whole ordeal, all I really hope is that, that hooligan made the decision to give me back my phone out of kindness and kindness alone. I hope that he handed it back because he had experienced a true moment of humanity and compassion… and not because it was a Blackberry and not an iPhone.
But let’s be honest, it was because it was a Blackberry and not an iPhone.
And you know what? My terrible phone might not always work perfectly; it may freeze up every day, not let me take more than twelve pictures, and never download my emails, but it WILL last longer than any of your iPhones.
Because it’s a boss – just like me.