Sunday, August 09, 2009

Almost Carjacked...AGAIN!

Spent a little bit of time up north this weekend and I always seem to get in trouble when I start driving the streets of LA! This weekend, I was up at the Pantages Theater seeing Topol in Fiddler on the Roof.

Leaving the theater we got caught in traffic with everyone leaving Staples Center after the Jonas Brothers concert..ugh! But we got to Staci's house and then I left from there. Only had about an hour drive, but it was late and I was very tired! (Gimme a break - it was after midnight - I am waaay to old for those late night hours!)

So I hit the freeway and then got stuck in more Jonas Brothers' traffic...ugh! I got off the freeway and started on side streets. I hate sitting in traffic not moving... patience isn't a virtue I have....'d think after the 2006-Almost-Carjacked Incident I would know better??!??

Nope... you give me WAY too much credit :)

So... there I was, stopped at a light... hear a tap on my driver's window... look to my left at a guy holding a gun. Without even hesitating, I hit the gas and flew through the intersection (to all of those who mocked me for focusing on a car that goes 0 to 60 in 4.4 seconds - HAH!). and got to the freeway as fast as possible. NO, I did NOT stop for any red lights!)

Who carjacks a corvette? You can't sell the parts, it doesn't breakdown well because of the fiberglass and a yellow 'vette isn't easy to hide...unless it wasn't the car that he wanted... shudder...

What is it about LA and me? It isn't like all the streets of LA are mean, just the ones I find myself on! There are some very pleasant streets in LA. But geesh ONE more attempted car-jacking and I am going to start taking it personally!

Although, in defense of the mean-streets-of-LA... I made very stupid decisions and have no one to blame but myself (well, and the would-be-carjackers). The Luck-of-Kathleen in full force :)

For those of you not familiar with the 2006-Almost-Carjacked Incident in the Black Corvette (which was later hit by a drunk driver when I was coming back from seeing Jay Leno in LA in 2007) is a recap:

October 4, 2006

I am a huge Barry Manilow fan! There I said it. I love Barry! And my friend Staci, is the best because when she was invited to a Friends and Family Dress Rehearsal for Barry Manilow's "Music and Passion" tour, she invited me to go with her! Duh - Of course, I am going to say yes! Did I mention I like Barry :)

So....I left work a bit early and met Staci at the LA Forum Arena for two hours of Barry singing Barry's greatest hits! The concert was the highlight of my week but the adventure was far from over once I left the Forum. I had been warned the Forum wasn't in the best part of LA - I can confirm that now... The Forum is in a baaaad part of LA.

I left the Forum and figured I'd take the 110 freeway home instead of the 405 - for those of you outside of Southern California, either freeway would have gotten me in the vicinity of my house.

Taking the 110 was the first bad choice I made that night. It was dark and the neighborhood in South Central LA I found myself in wasn't the nicest. It wasn't just that it was a run down part of town, but that it was 10PM and there were big groups of people on every street corner... I am pretty sure they weren't having prayer meetings...

I was only a few blocks from the freeway so I decided to just push on through. Naturally, I seemed to get stuck at every red light, giving the bystanders on all the various corners plenty of time to yell and mock me. To call it a "rough" neighborhood would be an understatement. The light turns green and I headed out of the intersection when suddenly an SUV and a car come flying out of a side street.

The SUV pulls in front of me and slams on his brakes, forces me to do the same, and the other car pulls up right behind me. Yeah...I wasn't thinking it was good either.

As it is happening, I am taking in the large crowd in front of the Laundromat on my left who are all laughing and hollering and I am not going to lie, I was scared. Then, I see the front door of the SUV in front of me start to open. By this time, I have already started to reverse and turn the wheel of my car to try to take advantage of what little space I have between me and the SUV & me and the car behind me. (Silver lining - I do have survival instincts... and they were kickin' in!)

I knew that, at whatever cost, I had to stay in the car because I was far safer IN the car than I ever would be out of it. I have a Corvette, I figured if I could just get my car moving, even if I had to take off the front hood to get out of the space, I could outrun them, right? 0 to 60 in 4.4 seconds was one of its selling points :)

At just that moment, I hear police sirens and almost cry from relief (I didn't actually cry until later. I was a big girl :) In my rearview mirror, I saw two police cars racing up behind me - the mob scatters and the two cars I am trapped in between take off.

Now in hindsight, I can laugh about it. But it certainly wasn't funny last night. One of the police cars pulls up beside me and he yells at me, if you'll excuse my language, he asked if I had "shit for brains." To which I respectfully replied, "Yes, yes sir I do. Can you please get me out of here."

Apparently there are nice people who call the police when stupid people like me venture into neighborhoods where they aren't wanted (Who wouldn't want me?) Thankfully there was someone who took the time to make that call that night because the bad guys definitely had someone call them to let them know I was there, too. So in defense of the Policeman's "bad" language, his adrenaline was pumping and I think he was almost as scared as I was. When they got the call that I was in trouble I am not sure they were optimistic that they would find me okay (Notice that TWO police cars were dispatched, not one...)

So Police Car #1 pulled ahead of me, I pulled in behind him, Police Car #2 pulled in behind me and we left South Central LA. They pulled me into a parking lot off the freeway and explained to me (loudly) the stupidity of my ways.

There are rules in the neighborhood (yup, gangs have rules!) and those rules dictated that, on principle, the gang-in-charge couldn't let me just drive my "nice" car through their neighborhood without their permission and since I hadn't asked nicely, I needed to be taught a lesson. (I promise, that my rudeness was purely unintentional).

I can't say I really understand the Gang Rule Book, but I am trying not to judge because I have NO idea what life in their world is like or what they need to do to survive. Although, I didn't think it was really appropriate to point out the Escalade SUV that had served to stop me in the middle of the street was most likely worth far more than what I was driving, but I digress...

The nice, wonderful, heroic policemen also told me that if I ever found myself in a bad neighborhood again he hoped I was smart enough to NOT stop at red lights because obeying traffic laws wasn't going to win me any points if I was dead. (I made a mental note of that - He did have a good point...)

After my lecture was over, they escorted me right to the freeway and I headed home. I made some stupid, naive decisions that got me in a lot of trouble. It was only by the grace of God that it wasn't more serious trouble.

So lessons learned:

1 - Just because your car has a fancy, smancy navigation system that talks to you doesn't mean you can't get lost.

2 - Trust your instincts. Sometimes when you sense danger, you should turn around and not push forward, especially when you are a single, white female driving a new corvette (without tinted windows) in South Central LA singing "Copacabana" (loudly & off-key) after dark.

3 - Not everyone is well intentioned, so at 10PM in South Central LA, don't be so ready to give people the benefit of the doubt.

4 - Risk getting a traffic ticket for running a red light versus making yourself a conspicuous and easy target for groups of dubious characters on street corners by stopping at every red light.

5 - Just because you don't turn your head and make eye contact with mean, scary gang-members doesn't mean that they can't see you...

6 - And yes, there are probably bad police officers on the LA police force, but four LA policemen are my heroes and there is nothing I will ever be able to say to them to adequately express my gratitude.

Good Guys - 1
Bad Guys - 0

I said my prayers last night & thanked God for the blessing of one more day.

One of these days I'll learn...


Friday, August 07, 2009

Pretty is as Pretty Does...

I can't tell you how many times I heard this from my mother while I was growing up - Pretty is as Pretty Does. While I think she was trying to make me feel better for being a bit frumpy (those of you that actually knew me "way back when" can refrain from confirming this for those of you who didn't...:) my wise momma was also trying to teach me that if you act ugly, you are ugly. And God doesn't like ugly.

I see adults who don’t even look at their waitress when placing an order. I see parents who let their children talk rudely to store clerks. I see people who don't even bother to get off their cell phones as they check out at the grocery store. AND I saw this all before lunch today!

I’m not suggesting we engage in a deep, philosophical conversations with the ladies at the dry cleaners or the man who works the drive-thru, but I would suggest we start looking them in the eye when we speak to them.

And for the minute it takes to check out, order a meal, go through the drive-thru, or pick up your drycleaning... hang up your cell phone.

Growing up on different military bases, I remember seeing the same bulletin board shouting "Courtesy is Contagious." Don't you think we would all do good to catch a little of that?

Pretty is as pretty does. Act pretty :) Thanks, Momma.


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Stopping to smell the flowers!

I LOVE yellow flowers. Nothing makes me happier - not sure what it is, but there is just something about sunny, yellow flowers even if they are "just" daisies. So I stopped on the way to work to take this picture - so pretty!


Sunday, August 02, 2009

MY Cash for YOUR clunker...


I really don't want to make this another blog that rants about the questionable programs coming out of Washington right now....I just got angrier and angrier this morning as I was listening to radio news shows.

We are paying people to trade-in perfectly acceptable cars, scrap these perfectly acceptable cars, dilute the trade-in market, subsidize government-owned auto makers and create unfair competition for those automakers running solvent and successful businesses who didn't need to take government money? All the while increasing my tax burden? Oh and it gets better... some of these eligible cars are made in Korea... so we are actually subsidizing the Korean economy? Oops... I started ranting....

BUT for the moment, let’s just pretend to ignore the fact that the Obama brain trust developed a program that was designed to run for three months but ran out of money in four days... more importantly, what does this suggest about their (in)ability to forecast anything about the economy or their (in)ability to administer your healthcare?

Cash for Clunkers just makes me more and more despondent about the prospect that Congress may soon be making my health care decisions for me. I am not saying healthcare doesn't need fixing, I am just saying I am tired of having to be the one to pay for everything.

Also... in my recent, informal Kathleen poll.. there are two problems that the majority of Americans are concerned about - the growing debt and the lack of jobs.

YET... the two issues Congress is quagmired in are .... energy and health. What am I missing? How are they supposed to reduce debt and create jobs?

Someone somewhere thinks putting a bigger burden on small businesses will make the economy all better? COBRA subsidies, minimum wage pay increase, supplemental tax hikes ... brilliant. For many, it's not about the money. It's about the sheer hassle of compliance with the tax laws and the complete loss of control you feel when dealing with the government.

I know I got a B in economics, so obviously I don't know much about the economy - supply, demand, stimulus, recession are all very complex. However, I do recall the best way to stimulate the economy is to stop taking money from taxpayers to begin with!


I wanted a renewed sense of optimism. Yup, I voted for the other guy, but I wanted change, too. I think we were a nation that was a little bit broken. But, I wonder if, as a nation, when we went to the polls we voted based on charisma versus experience? Now we have a bunch of newbies with advanced degrees trying and ...not succeeding.

I have advanced degrees... a BS, an MBA, a few professional certifications AND a Red Cross babysitting certificate.... I think that makes me qualified to run... the Department of Treasury.