How about a little L.A. story about heat and traffic frustrations? Last Tuesday Eric asked me to pretty, pretty please help him out and pick up his course reader for a class in Westwood. It just so happened that Tuesday was one of the hottest days this week, and I've not been using the air conditioner in my car since the car has been a bit finicky lately. I wasn't exactly pleased to face the heat, but I figured if traffic didn't stink, I'd be able to get it done in an hour or so. Traffic was fine--until I got to Westwood. With the school year now in full swing, the tiny area of Westwood Village was clogged with cars and parking was rarer than a real set of bosoms on Rodeo Drive. I finally found a spot in one of those $3 a minute rip-off pay lots and took off for the course reader materials store, hoping I'd make it back in short order so I could avoid paying any more for parking than I had to.
I discovered the course reader materials location was vacant, so I had to call Eric and figure out if he was just playing a mean joke on me or if the store had moved to another location. As it turned out, the store had just moved up the street, so I managed to get in and out pretty quickly. By the time I made it back to my car, my clothes were beginning to feel like I'd just stepped off the log ride at Six Flags. All I wanted to do was get in the car and get back to the AC and my day off. I can't with any justice communicate the frustration, despair, and raw animosity I felt when I turned the key and heard nothing but a click. Again. Click. Once more. Click. #!$%#&^!
After that mental primal scream I quickly moved into let's-get-this-over-with mode and went to tell the lot attendant my car wasn't starting and I needed to call AAA for a tow. I was sure he would insist on charging me for the time my car was dead in the lot waiting on the AAA tow truck to show up, but it didn't quite turn out that way. My car had literally been in the lot only a few minutes and had been running fine then, so he was unconvinced I couldn't get it started again. He soon found I wasn't making things up. However, he took it as a challenge, and after playing around with it a few minutes he got it started somehow. Even hotter and sweatier than before, I didn't question his mechanical magic. I thanked him profusely and sped away. When I had made it back to the apartment and collapsed in the AC, I reflected how once more my old aphorism had just proven valid: No good deed goes unpunished.
The truth of this statement has been demonstrated to me time and again, yet I keep helping, each time looking for a different outcome. The definition of a psychopath is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. So, I guess this habit makes me a psychopath. Or, more likely, just a plain old sucker.