January 6th, 2004

Experiences you don't want to have in a car

I live in Oakland. While my neighborhood is perfectly safe, in the back of my mind I'm constantly aware of the fact that there are some pretty damned scary neighborhoods not very far away from me.

Tonight I was on the freeway (980 just as it turns into 880), when a car came up fairly quickly on my right, and then tried to get into my lane. I laid on the horn, and it sounded like he might have sideswiped me before he swerved to the right and halfway onto the shoulder. I didn't think I'd been hit but I wasn't at all sure-- I'd heard a noise that made me wonder.

He sped up again, and I got behind him because I wanted to get his plate just in case he had hit me. As I got closer to him he sped up, then slowed down, then turned on his hazard lights and started fading toward the shoulder. I got the license plate number (4BL B847, silver or gold late-model Lumina) and then stayed behind him as he took the Jackson exit, which is where I was going anyway.

He kept looking like he wanted to pull over, but then he'd pull back onto the main road and speed up again, still with his hazard lights on. I couldn't figure out if he was hopelessly fucked up and not really able to stay on the road or if he just couldn't find the right place to pull over and do insurance information, but i was leaning toward the former.

At the bottom of the ramp he stayed in the left lane at the light, and I followed even though I'd normally go right. When we got a green he paused for a long time and then turned left; again, I followed. Under the freeway he pulled halfway over to the right side of the road and just sat there when that light turned green.

I was worried now... he was clearly not all there, and I had visions of my being the next Oakland statistic. When the car behind me started honking I blew past the Lumina, figuring that the police station was only a few blocks away, and I could make tracks in that direction if the situation got scary.

I gave him a lot of room as I passed, then turned right at the light. He followed (oh shit!), but very quickly fell behind and then disappeared.

At that point I made a beeline for home, and once I figured out he still wasn't following, parked the car in the garage rather than on the street. Once the adrenaline rush subsided a little bit I checked the car for damage, but didn't find any.

I'm sure he only missed me by an inch or two, though.

Trivia question

I'm on a quest for all recordings of the old Eddy Arnold song You Don't Know Me. It's the one that starts out, "You give your hand to me, and then you say hello..."

I've heard quite a few-- Eddy Arnold, Ray Charles, Elvis, Michael Bolton, Jann Arnold, Bette Midler, but I'm certain that there are many more out there.

Know of one?