Fear & Trash in Los Angeles

Just this evening I grew pretty scared because I heard what I thought were nearby gunshots. Normally I’m pretty adept at discerning gunshots from other random urban noises; but last night my room mate mentioned being outside, on the porch smoking, when some guy started shooting into an apartment complex across from us. Naturally I thought I was hearing round two, but upon hearing the noises once again I figured out what it was: people roling out their trash bins for collection on Monday.

Funny how fear can turn something as benign as the sound of the trashbin being dragged to the curve into a vehicle for possibly bodily injury. Once, about 15yrs ago my mother and I mistook a backfiring car for gunshots. We pulled over 3 blocks from our house as soon as we heard the bangs. It kept driving up and down the street: the moment then felt never ending. I thought, “how much do they need to shoot up before their done?” Finally we glanced up & figured out it was just an old crappy car backfiring. Fear may have its evolutionary advantages but sometimes it for naught.

7 thoughts on “Fear & Trash in Los Angeles

  1. I remember going to Laytonville around Humboldt to visit my cousins and a car backfired and after almost a decade in LA I assumed it was someone shooting at us. I hit the ground and she was like, “What are you doing?” And I said, “Nothing.” It was a mixture of embarrassment and terror and I didn’t want to explain.

    I wondered if this was what Vietnam Vets felt like.

    And you know even now it’s hard for me to not hit the ground when I hear a car backfire.

  2. I say better safe than sorry. You can never be sure of what’s going on. I would rather have an embarrassing moment like Browne or the one you had, which will later on turn into a funny story. I would much rather tell that story than the one about me getting shot in my own living room.

  3. I remember when I was in the front yard of my friend’s house chatting (around 1990/91), and we saw this Cutlass Supreme with tinted window pass by really slow and all of the sudden it makes a u-turn and comes close to the curb and the windows opened and I dove for the floor. Seconds later I heard someone laughing — it was another friend that had just purchased a “cholo car”. I remember that my heart was pounding for a few minutes.

  4. Urbanista,
    I was about to post the same thing about cars. I haven’t heard a car back-fire in the U.S. in many years, but when I was in México this past summer I heard it a number of times and got scared shitless. As for cars, the thing that still really gets to me is if an unknown car passes my house twice in a short time. It happened to me once at the Tommy’s in Hollywood. It ended up being nothing, but you never know.

    Now, without a defined “cholo-mobile,” it’s hard to tell what may come, but it’s one of those things that I guess we all live with.

  5. Hmm, I just heard something sounding of gunshots, but they were too properly spaced. Maybe it was fireworks? I guess I’ll check the crime reports tomorrow to see what that was.

  6. Chavo,
    It was fireworks. I was out there eating sidewalk tacos (you know where) and observed some kids setting them off. I didn’t know your neighbors celebrated Rosh Hashanah so festively around that area.

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