I've been visiting in LA for a few days, and just got back. Lots of contrasts between the big city and my charming small town, but one of the most striking was this. In Cobourg, whenever something untoward happens -- a kid lost in the mall, say, or a bear wandering into town, or a falling tree or even a falling ice cream cone -- no matter how small the incident, the very first question on everyone's lips is always: HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? You could say that we Cobourgers are interested in reasons, motives, causes. Or you could say that we like to know who to blame. Anyway, I was buying T shirts for my kids in a funky Los Feliz boutique on Saturday afternoon, when I heard a loud bang, and an odd scraping sound from outside. Poking my head out, along with everyone else in earshot, I was shocked, concerned, and amazed to see a car flipped over in the middle of the road. It was on its back in the uptown lane, with its tail lights pointing at me. The Lexus (I remember noticing) was not rolled, but actually flipped forward, as if it had tried a somersault and couldn't get up again.
Of course everyone's first thought was for the driver, who had managed to exit the car and was lying on the pavement. A crowd of people clustered around helpfully, offering pillows, blankets and advice. Half the street was on a cellphone calling 911. All very normal. I did not linger. There was nothing I could do that wasn't being done, and staring at other people in trouble is kind of awful. As I walked down the street I overheard dozens of Poor guy comments, a number of Where is the ambulance? (Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, tow trucks appeared long before the EMS) and more than one Traffic, huh! But no one -- no one -- wanted to ask what I thought should have been the first question after: Where does it hurt? No one asked: HOW DID IT HAPPEN?
I interrupted a guy who was telling everyone around him for about the eighteenth time that he'd seen the whole thing. How did it happen? I asked.
He stared at me. It was awful, he said. That poor guy crawling out of the car upside down.
Yes, yes, but how did the car get that way? I asked.
He frowned at me, as if I had asked the colour of an orange. Just look at it! he said.
I walked on.
I still can't work it out. Are some cars prone to front flips? Was the guy a stunt driver? Did he hit a teeny clown car which sped away unnoticed? Was it aliens or potholes or gangs or giant magnets or what? Sorry -- it's the Cobourger in me. I want to know.