Los Angeles Gets It Together

Los Angeles Gets It Together

From A 6th Bowl of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Los Angeles Gets It Together

Very few burdens are heavy if everyone lifts.

Sy Wise

Some reporter.

I didn’t get one piece of information.

Not one name, no job titles, no whos, whats, whys, ages or telephone numbers.

There simply wasn’t time; not a moment for anything but quick decisions with hopes tight and fingers crossed among the blood, pain and anxieties of triage in the fast lane.

I’d been southbound on the Hollywood Freeway, coming up on the Four Level as gray minutes passed dawn, when a big dog was slammed by a car and tossed airborne, twisting and falling two vehicles ahead of mine.

Dammit. Across three lanes, wheels turned and locked in concern, as a half-dozen commuters stirred enough reflexes to get out of the way without rubbing fenders. The dog was left directly in front of me. With one foot deep into the antilock braking system, I stopped, my car shielding the animal.

I hunkered down and whispered inside: If nothing happens in the next 4.7 seconds—no crashing of bumpers, no sudden and involuntary acceleration of my precious body parts—we might be able to help out here. Nothing did happen.

The golden dog—born a little of this, a little of that, but a really handsome guy—had been smacked half-senseless. He was awake, head turning and eyes alert, but his haunches and back legs weren’t moving much beyond an occasional quiver.

There were good signs. Only a little blood from one ear, and that had stopped. No bones piercing the skin. Better yet, he allowed me to smooth his head and feel gently for obvious damage, without showing any upset or teeth.

Commuters weren’t quite as agreeable. Torqued by this Honda Accord of mine flashing in the fast lane, they unloaded everything but gunfire. Truck horns, fingers, references to my intellect, my anatomy, even my mother. You’ve got to love Los Angeles.

I called 911 on the cell phone and told the dispatcher I was on the Hollywood Freeway, in the fast lane, protecting an injured dog. She did not consider this a communiqué from St. Francis of Assisi.

“Sir, you can’t block the fast lane.”

“Right now, my blocking the fast lane is the only thing keeping traffic from turning an injured dog into a pizza,” I said.

“Sir, you have to move your car out of the fast lane.”

“Sorry,” I replied. “But if it is any consolation, the fast lane really isn’t moving that fast anymore. Matter of fact, it’s kinda stopped.”

“Sir, you could be putting others in danger and you’ll have to move.”

“Not until someone gets here to help me lift this big dog without hurting him. Here’s my name and cell phone number if you need to reach me.”

I called KFWB.

“This is Phone Forcer St. Francis,” I said. “If you’re getting reports of a stall in the fast lane, southbound on the 101, near the Four Level, that’s me. I’m trying to keep cars off a hurt dog, and I’d consider it a huge favor if you told people to stop flipping me off.”

Then the cavalry arrived.

I don’t know if it was by accident, by the 911 dispatcher or if those guys stay tuned to KFWB and Jeff Bought in Jetcopter 98. But a pair of knights in Day-Glo vests arrived aboard a brace of Metro Freeway Service Patrol tow trucks.

They had it all figured, fast and efficiently.

They coned off our little emergency, front and back, and spoke confidently. Get the dog in the rear of my car. Put front floor mats on the backseat in case anything leaks from the pooch. Guy with the heavy gloves, get the front end, in case dog bites man. All together. Lift.

Now where?

“To the animal shelter,” said one of the drivers whose names I will never know. “My buddy will stay on patrol. You follow me.”

He headed through traffic east on the Pasadena Freeway and off at Avenue 26 to the city’s North Central shelter. I followed. Damned if the dog didn’t lift his head and whimper, and it didn’t seem like any cry of pain.

The tow trucker couldn’t stay. He had yet another call. No matter. A shelter worker wheeled a case to the car, gently lifted the dog and took him inside for treatment.

I told him I’d pay any veterinarian bills, and most certainly would adopt Freddy the Freeway Survivor when he was well.

It was not to be.

Freddy died of internal injuries while in surgery.

Yet there was a small, shining side to the sadness. Because for one brief moment, one morning in this overworked, supposedly dysfunctional, certainly tough-talking city of ours, the right people cared, and all our systems worked.

Paul Dean Submitted by Willy McNamara

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