Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Stretching it

This morning the canyon was in a white-out fog. Summer is surely over, even here in Los Angeles, where you can still get a raging hot Santa Ana in the middle of November.

Jack was out on the deck, licking his toes and other body parts as part of his morning toilette. We went out into the fog for our morning walk.

Today I decided to stretch it a little. Instead of walking south on our road, I went north - two-tenths of a mile to the intersection, then turned back, passing my driveway and continuing on my usual walk to the .30 mile marker. This adds four tenths of a mile to my one mile walk - now 1.4 miles.

You can think about a lot of things while you walk in the morning.

Last night driving home from work, going up one of the hills toward Palisades, there was a paint spill in the road, and I didn't realize until I drove over the wet lid of a five-gallon paint can that it was fresh paint. As I continued up the hill, there were buckets and splashes on the road, and then on the side of the road, a big black Mercedes stood idling - a white plastic paint bucket trapped beneath the chassis.

I continued on to the stoplight, and a black convertible passed me with a plume of yellow paint splashed along its flank from the front drivers side wheel-well. Uh-oh, I thought - I better check and see if my car has been marked, too.

I rolled down my window and could hear suddenly a high-pitched scraping sound, like nails on a chalkboard. As I slowed to the stoplight, the pitch lowered and slowed, and then stopped when I stopped - and I thought - Oh, no! I'm dragging something!

But then I looked to my right and next to me was the big black Mercedes - she must have decided to continue on. She looked away as I tried to catch her eye, and then when the light turned she drove through and turned off on the first side street. Perhaps home was a better place for her to deal with it.

Then a red SUV with a calligraphy of yellow paint on its side panel passed me. Yikes!

I pulled into the Ralphs parking lot, which is shared by a neighborhood hardware store, a pharmacy, and a car wash - too bad the car wash was closed by this time. In the hardware store I bought some rags and a cleaning solution they recommended, and started to wash the paint off my car.

It wasn't that bad - my right front wheel had made a direct hit on the paint and the inside of the wheel well dripped with paint, but the body had only a few yellow splotches and dots on the right side. Water from a bottle I'd had in the car did a better job than the cleanser. The rear wheel had gone over it too, but it wasn't as bad. I rubbed and cleaned, and presently a young woman wearing a Ralphs uniform approached me.

"Hey," she said, "if you're cleaning cars in our lot, you can do mine!" I'm not sure if she was serious. I laughed and told her about the paint spill. "Don't drive that way if you're going home."

She watched me for a while and pointed out a splotch I hadn't seen. "Thanks," I said. She watched a little longer and then went to a black Civic and took off her apron.

A black Lexus pulled in the lot, and a guy said, "So, you got hit by the paint too."

"Yeah, but I'm pretty lucky. Not too bad. How about you?"

"I managed to steer around it," he said.

 The Ralphs worker came back and handed me a big plastic jug of water. "Here, looks like you need more water."

"Thanks!" I said. "You need this back?"

"No, keep it!" She waved and got in her car and drove away.

I cleaned the rest of the paint and threw the soiled rags in the trash, and went home.

I thought about this as I walked this morning. I had forgotten that yesterday was a deadline for talks between supermarket workers' union and the big three grocery stores, Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons. If an agreement weren't reached by yesterday morning, the workers would go on strike, and at least two of the chains had threatened to close their stores. I hadn't heard the news.

I wondered if the woman who'd been kind to me had a job to go to this morning. I would check the news when I got back to the house.

The moist fog kissed my skin and dampened my hair. At the viewpoint, the fog was too thick to see the mountain across the way, but you could hear beyond the sounds of construction vehicles at the new library, and somewhere overhead a traffic helicopter - ah, better check Sigalert.com, too, before driving to work.

(Note: the negotiations reached a tentative agreement. Workers will vote on the contract Friday. In the meantime, the stores will stay open and people like the woman who was kind to me will still have a job to go to.)


smalltownme said...

"The moist fog kissed my skin.." I like that. My neighborhood is in a patch of fog right now but a few miles away the sun is shining.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I will join you, Aunt Snow, in rooting for the nice people.

Damnitall, though, the mean ones are taking over the planet.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad she still has her job.
(And proud of you for the extra walking, and relieved about the lack of damage caused by paint, but right now it just seems more important that she has a job.)

Cloudia said...

paint: BOO!

workers: YaY!

post: good one :-)

Warm Aloha from Waikiki;

Comfort Spiral

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Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

It's a big change from painting the town red!