I realized, standing in the hall outside my own locked door at 8:30am on a Friday after taking out the trash that I don’t know a single number that I can call to help me out here. I’m alone in a sea of people. I stood there without my phone, and even if I found a phone to use I had no one’s number committed to memory. All I could think of was that maybe someone had an 818 area code, you know, because that’s the local one. Huge help. I had what I think could be described as a small panic attack. My mind starting boiling.
I ran to the front office of my block-deep apartment complex, where the building manager Carlos noticed the hurricane at his door and asked “what’s wrong?”. He didn’t have a key to my unit. He asked if we should call Jerame – the guy who owns my place. I know Jerame is likely already working on set over at Universal and couldn’t come. I also didn’t know his number. Head rushing hard I figured I could run to my friend’s place – he has a spare set of keys for this exact situation, and lives a few blocks away. Did he leave for work yet? Was he awake? How late was I going to be? How fast can I run in these flats? Carlos gave me the keys to his 1990s Civic and I took it, Mega FM blaring in the stereo (¡Lo mejor de las mananas!), over to my friend’s place.
Flashers on. Run to the door. Push all the buttons. Hit the broken call machine. Curse a little. Run more. Pry the gate open. Run the steps. Knock on the door. Hear his dog. Think maybe he’s left for work, but think maybe I saw his blurry car when I ran past. Knock again. Pretend to breathe. Consider how late I’ll be to work. Drown in my whirlwind of wet hair. He comes to the door, confused and sleepy. I apologize for running through his morning like a freight train. He gives me my keys. I thank the gods for good friends while I run and drive like a maniac. Return Carlos’s keys. Promise him a case of Modelo. Run to my door. Make a sigh of relief as the lock clicks open. I’m 15 minutes behind schedule. I walk back in, grab my salad, and book it to work, making up 10 of those 15 minutes on the road. Because it’s Friday in LA no one notices I’m 5 minutes late, because only 25% of the office is in on time.
Eating breakfast at my desk, I let the flood my head recede. Left in the debris of my morning is a clear note: Maybe commit a few life raft phone numbers to memory if you’re going to swim alone in a huge ocean of people.