Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Beatdown on the Avenue de la Republique

Yesterday I saw two young women drivers go ballistic at each other in the middle of the Avenue de la Republique. One on a scooter, one in a car. Out strolling and exploring my new neighborhood and the ones nearby, I’d been looking mainly up at the buildings with frequent glances down to avoid skating through poo. I was jolted out of my blissful reverie by harsh invective. Then shrill invective. It only took a second to locate the source by following all the turned heads on the packed sidewalk. What was it? Car Driver had hit Scooter Driver, who apparently proceeded to lose her mind. She yelled at Car Driver at the top of her lungs. She got off her scooter in the middle of the roundabout. She stomped menacingly closer (still yelling) to the mini car that Car Driver wielded so ineptly. Car Driver responded with her own piercing screams, popping veins, and contorted facial expressions. This sent Scooter Driver over the edge, and, still wearing her helmet, she started pounding on Car Driver through the half closed window. Not for one punch or two, but for a prolonged time period – long enough for me to wonder a) if I should call the police, b) realize I can’t actually speak to the police; I don’t know the requisite fighting verbs, c) wonder if other bystanders might call for help, and d) ponder whether people would generally observe the smackdown but mind their own business in the end. Whatever. It was long enough for my thoughts to go wandering down these paths and a few others. Then they each drove off and the bystanders dispersed, shaking their heads reprovingly and sighing about how violent people are these days.

I lived in Brooklyn for a long time, but this is first time I’ve witnessed a beatdown administered through a window.

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