san jose: beyond thunderdome

It was a dirty, urban, inner city street. Run down houses and tiny cramped apartment buildings were crammed on top of each other. Cars in all state of disrepair lined each side of the two lane road. A dumpster sat in front of one house, almost blocking the driveway. The white Isuzu Rodeo was coming down the street, on the same side as the dumpster. Following the Rodeo was a mini van and following that was a yellow Honda Civic that had been lowered and had loud pipes. The Civic was hard to miss.

The Rodeo slowed and was turning into the driveway of the house in front of me, swinging wide into the street to miss the dumpster. The minivan followed suit, but from the excessive revving of the Civics’ engine, it was easy to see that he was not happy all the traffic was in the way. The civic muscled to the right of the minivan and gunned it in an attempt to pass both cars on the right. Just as his momentum was peaking the Rodeo’s wide turn was at its apex and it turned directly into the path of the Civic.

The sounds of a traffic accident are distinctive. The metal scrapes and groans under the excessive forces that are bending it, bolts snap, pop and break. Plastic crushes, crinkles and drops to the ground. Safety class cracks like a rifle shot. And that Civics’ exhaust bellows it’s desperate, shallow cry for someone’s attention. The Rodeo rocked up onto two wheels in recoil. The Civics bumper was hanging with one end on the ground. The van lurched to the other side of the road and came to a halt. The Civic driver, dazed, revved the engine so high it sounded like it would pop, and then dumped the clutch, smoking the wheels and sawing the wheel franticly, leached through the tiny space between the front of the van and the back of the Rodeo dragging its bumper and loosing chunks of the shattered grill.

The fury in the Rodeo drivers eyes was quick and she gunned the SUV into reverse. The Civic leaking anti freeze, scraping broken parts against the pavement, and the Rodeo giving chance, they rounded the next corner and sped off down the block.

I witnessed this Mad Max moment this afternoon when meeting with a business colleague. Moments after, as we stood looking at each other, listening to the Civic scream down an adjoining street, I said: “Who needs reality TV?”


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