On December 17 Chicken Corner wrote about a freeway shooting (fatal) and a witness to a traffic jam. Yesterday, I heard from Trina, the newspaper traffic witness who was quoted in a strange story in the L.A. Times. As suspected, the bystander thought she was being interviewed for a traffic-jam report and not a story about the death of a 25-year-old.
Hi Ms. Burman - I found your article in Chicken Corner and I just wanted to tell you how right you were about the disorienting tone of the article regarding the Bentley Shooting/101 Freeway Jam [three-some] weeks ago. I'm the person that was quoted regarding the traffic jam that morning (aka Elmo Rage Mom).
The LA Times reporter that spoke to me picked up a whine about the traffic I'd posted on Twitter the morning of the shooting and asked to talk to me about my traffic experience. I chatted with him for about 10 minutes and peppered my speech with a bunch of rants, thinking one *might* get included along with several other people's observations in a article dealing separately with the traffic fallout. At that point, I didn't know anything about the Bentley driver's situation.
So imagine my surprise when I get a phone call from a friend who read me the Elmo quote from A2 the next day. 'OK, great', I'm thinking. 'One of my ... statements made it into the paper. ... The end.' Now imagine my horror when she calls back 5 minutes later and reads me the rest of the article in the B Section. By then I'd learned the driver was not expected to survive. Hearing myself whine on and on about the traffic seemed ridiculous in comparison with a family keeping vigil in a hospital somewhere. You know that feeling of wishing the ground would open up under you so you could disappear? That was me everytime someone teased me about the article. So thanks for blaming the mixed tone of the article on its lack of focus and not the self-centeredness of the ranting mom. Your perception about the wrong tone struck me as right on. Trust me, between me and the other driver, I know I got the better end of the deal that morning.
Of course, we all take traffic personally, regardless of the cause. But most of us don't have a media behemoth calling us out by name. Or calling us on the phone with a few questions about the traffic, or the weather, or hamsters on pianos, and did we mention it's for a story about a homicide?