a glimpse of serendipity. april 2001.
i just got off work. for some reason the weather in redwood city seems nicer than when i get to daly city. after a day’s work in the tech industry, i keep on telling myself to leave work’s problems in their respective 4 corners and reach myself out to the real world. i was a bit immature and quite unprofessional at that time yet. i just had to learn self-control in one way or another because the thoughts seem to bother me whenever they seize my thinking. perhaps a little fuzzy about the notion of easing with the new .com environment.
i could smell the spring flowers as i walked my way to the parking lot across the building. the clouds formed feather-liked shapes throughout the entire blue sky. i can’t just wait to get home. time to go to 24-hour fitness and work on my usual routine. my other co-workers’ rides are still on the lot. they leave work at a later time than i do.
“now which floor did i leave my car?” i asked myself.
i’m used to parking on the first floor since i’m one of those early birds. but at times when i either take off late from home or the traffic along 280 gets bad, i end up parking on the upper floors.
i eventually found my ride on that same spot that i regularly go to. by the time i broke its engine did i start to realize how valuable my ride was to me. i’ve been using rental cars for the past couple weeks until my friend, and mechanic, finally did the overall replacement of a new engine.
“just remember, oil is the blood of this bad boy.”
it seemed to make sense to me. i someday wanted to fix the engine myself. i told np that maybe we could start our own car shop. he was delighted to go on with the plan with the premise that both of us had to work more hours than i expected. as far as i know, i couldn’t do that yet. i had school and work and all i ever wanted to do was either help with bookkeeping management, haul rides to the shop, and be an apprentice to him. i still had to learn more about the skill of entrepreneurship. it’s not just an overnight task of building legos like easy slots to stick into.
i warmed up my car and started listening to 94.9. that station has been my alma mater ratio for quite sometime, listening to their morning talks and prank calls when i drive to work and the deep house and mainstream mixes when i get back. i looked across the lot and remembered one classmate who also worked at kaiser redwood city. we inadvertedly talked while i saw her stopped beside me in one of the stop lights. i never saw her again after that. i looked out into the other side of the street for passing cars as i drove my way past marshall street.
the sun glimmered into my windshield. i just loved these days. the sun doesn’t set until 8:30ish and i can run on the treadmill after the free weight lifting and 5 ab exercises while the sun’s afternoon rays illuminate the upper floor of the gym. that ambience would have lasted the entire summer until the sun starts setting earlier. 3 more lights until i reach the long stretch of northern california peninsula road, el camino real, and a few minutes up to 280.
i was driving slow at 20mph when i noticed the expedition to my left suddenly halted. i kept on going until i finally noticed a teenager riding his bike pass in front of me. i slammed on the brakes but it was too late.
hit him like a motherfucker. he and his bike bounced off a couple feet away from me. i stopped to my disbelief while the rest of the people around looked over. the expedition went ahead nonchalantly as if nothing had happened. traffic on the other lane moved on as i hit my hazard lights and moved out to see if the kid was hurt.
“the fuck you were doing, g?” the kid shouted while getting up.
the teenager was in his late teens, of hispanic decent. probably came from work as i assumed that he was riding his bike and was wearing a uniform that i distinguished in some outlet. he kinda smelled of weed as i got nearby him. not sure if he was high or something. i just hear a lot of street stories about gangsters in the san mateo area and their frivolous social scrimmages. i see no bruises on him, just dust that he was taking off from his clothes. still, i could be wrong on my observation. the impact seemed similar to being kicked by a horse, only that his right leg and thigh might have been hit by the car’s fender. i still had to do further investigation.
instead of being nice and casual, the suit and tie that i was wearing did not compliment the words that i didn’t intend to say.
“what’s up with you tho? you know you wuz crossin’ down the street with a shitload of cars passin’ non-stop”
my senses finally came up to me. i still might lose in court because i was driving on something that can kill irregardless. i was thinking of asking someone at the law firm i formerly worked at for consultation. but i guess it wouldn’t make sense at all in the first place. one book i read, before going to court to contest my very first citation, declared that as much as possible not to bring matters to court unless there’s no other choice. i guess i still had one.
i started being nice to him and asked him where he was hurt. he said he was fine. i prudently led the conversation to a conclusion on how we could settle the case. any further reason of blame can lead to him to misconstrue my foremost intention. i offered to bring him to a hospital. he, however, said he wanted money. ethically, i might have been wrong with following his decision. but theoretically, he said that all’s fair until the transaction has been made. i had to get his agreement square and straight through a written contract.
he parked his bike to a barber shop and i took him to the parking lot for further conversation. one lady who approaced us earlier called the police and i saw the car coming at us. the kid abruptly got scared and started panicking as he told me he had some illegal substance with him. we were luckily driving down slowly so i ordered him to throw everything that he had covertly on his side of the window as we pass the parked cars on the lot. we stopped at a certain point as the cop walked our way.
“is everything ok here?”
“yes, officer, everything’s fine. just another human mistake that i made and i apologize for taking your time.”
i told the officer that i was gonna take the kid to the hospital and have him checked for injuries. the kid was just silent, still conscious that he may be arrested for something else. he must be hiding from the law for some reason. i didn’t want to go to another problem. hitting him would be the last problem to deal with that day. i had my troubles myself when i was his age. and i had to understand where he was coming from.
we finally took off to the bank and gave him his claim. exchanged contact info just in case something contingent comes up. his number seemed odd. the 650 area code made sense but i’ve never seen any first 3 digits after it in that area. i could be wrong. could be a residential listing that i was unfamiliar of. still, i was ready for plan b and c: street-smart games and legal procedures respectively. but i just hoped that everything would be back to normal after this incident. nothing happened.
january 1st, 2003. i was driving along university avenue on a pitch black evening when i suddenly saw the truck on my left lane stopped. i got disoriented for a second as i observed my surroundings: a cross-street, a pedestrian lane, blind area by the truck’s, no pedestrian as far as i can see. i tried slowing down and went past the truck when i suddenly noticed a lady about to pass a few feet away from my left side. a lot of vivid thoughts about the past incident poured heavily into my mind. i started driving carefully as i reaced my apartment. i read that berkeley is the 3rd most safest pedestrian area in california. i missed another accident by a timing of 3 seconds.
she wasn’t riding a bike.