Monday, April 23, 2018


I left my car at the Royal Car Wash and walked down the block to Trader Joe’s. I didn’t need anything from Trader Joe’s but this has never stopped me. Once in the market, I fell into an unblinking trance staring at the spice grinders and tiny bottles of hot sauce. They have ghost pepper salsa. Why don’t they make a ghost pepper hot sauce? I was trapped in a Trader Joe’s fugue state and why couldn’t I get out of there?

The walk back to the Royal, felt long. Surely my car had been waiting for at least half an hour by then. I balanced an overfilled canvas shopping bag in one hand and my too-heavy purse in the other. It was warm. I stopped to remove my cardigan. The walk felt uphill, like trying to run under water. I stopped again and set the bags down to give my arms a break.

When I finally reached the car wash, I heard a loud grinding sound. I looked up to see a car wash employee behind the wheel of a police patrol car, attempting to exit the wash tunnel. The car appeared to be stuck and the engine whirred as he floored the gas again and again. I watched as the car finally broke free and lurched full speed into the back of a parked car and then turned, slamming into a man standing nearby.  On impact, the man flew through the air, landing ten feet away on his side. There was a long second of silence and then yelling and screaming.  I set down my bags. This had all been about timing.

I ran to the man lying on the ground, kneeled down, and placed a hand on his chest. “Try not to move.” I turned and called out to the Royal manager. “Call 911.” I turned back to the man,  “My name’s Lisa.”


“Hey, Justin. Can I hold your hand?”

“Yeah. My leg. My leg really hurts.”

“I bet it does. Someone’s calling for help. How’s your pain on a scale of one to ten?”

“Maybe nine?”

“Nine? Justin, don’t be a hero. You just got leveled by a police car.”

“Ha. Yeah, maybe more like an eleven.”

“Are you breathing okay?”


And then we talked. We talked about how he had just dropped off his seven year-old son at school before the car wash. We talked about the Dodgers and Ohtani, the new player for the Angels.  We talked about the previous accident Justin had been in and the pins in his left arm and leg, the same side where he was just hit. We talked about how lucky he was and how much worse this all could have been. We talked about gratitude. We prayed.

The Royal employees stood in a group, talking to the guy who drove the police car and was shaking and pacing. We heard sirens in the distance growing louder.

“Justin, I think your ride’s here.” A fire truck, a police cruiser, and a paramedic pulled in.

“It’s my lucky day, Lisa.”

“It kind of is,” I said.

A cop pointed to the smashed up police car and asked the Royal manager, “Where is the officer that should be with this vehicle?”

“Next door at the IHOP, maybe?”

Justin was a big guy. I waited as the paramedics helped him transfer to the too-short-for-him gurney and loaded him in to the ambulance. Before they closed the doors, Justin patted his heart then pointed at me and called out, “Thank you. You’re my angel.”

I gave an officer a recount of what had happened. The sirens blared again and a confused policeman walked out of the IHOP.  I packed my groceries into the back of my car.

It was a lucky day.


  1. And you'll never forget it. Neither will Justin. I am so glad you were there for him.

  2. He was right. You are an angel.

  3. I love your storytelling. What a lucky day indeed, I hope you’re around if I ever get smacked by a police car.

  4. Yep, there are no coincidences.
    Glad you were there for Justin.

  5. You really are an angel - your compassion and thoughtfulness for people takes my breath away - your story of buying groceries for a down-on-their-luck family so inspired me that I am on the lookout to follow your admirable deed - High five Lisa - you inspire and show us that there is a lot of love out there -Justin was a very lucky man to have you there - Thanks - Mary Ellen

  6. You were his angel and someone was yours, having you pause with the weight of your bags. Glad it was not worse for Justin.

  7. Oh my goodness, how scary and wonderful that you were there for that man. And not his first time being hit! UGH – beautiful storytelling too. <3

  8. Oh you amazing angel!

    (visiting your blog after a long time since I wasn't blog hopping for some time now... Catching up on all that i missed in your life now <3)