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A Balcony View:

Lessons learned in cone battle

May 11, 2010|By Gary Huerta

“Never start a fight. But if you get into one, finish it.”

These were some words of advice my mom gave me when I was growing up. Like many people, I wasn’t always the most attentive listener — except when it came to this phrase.

For the most part, I’ve lived a life free of physical altercations. I got into a fight once in fourth grade to settle a dodge-ball dispute — always a hotbed of controversy for 10-year-old boys. The fight lasted less than 10 seconds, with my opponent choosing a combination of running full speed and kicking me with both feet in the head.

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Unfortunately, he didn’t plan on me bobbing slightly to the right. As I moved, the other boy whizzed by, feet first, until gravity took over, dropping him head first onto the playground. He was knocked silly, and in a matter of seconds I dubiously earned a dangerous reputation that would carry me through elementary school.

Like I said, not much of a fighting career, although I do consider myself undefeated. But then last week came along. I was having lunch on Brand Boulevard with a friend of mine. We were looking for a place to park and not having much luck. OK. To be perfectly honest, we were lazily attempting to park as close to the restaurant as possible.

I noticed an open spot curiously guarded by an orange traffic cone. Looking around, there seemed to be no real reason for the cone’s presence. I figured it was just misplaced so . . . I got out of the car to move the cone.

No sooner did I touch the cone when I heard an angry voice yell out, “Don’t you touch that cone!”

I turned around to see a man, with no visible authority, in his mid-30s. I thought about it, then dismissed the guy, moving the cone so my friend could park her car.

I thought that would pretty much be the end of it, but I guess Cone Man had other plans. He walked quickly toward me, screaming and yelling about our car, which was now in his spot. As the guy got closer, he got a little more intimidating. His appearance, which from far away looked harmless, suddenly began to look a little more imposing.

As I began to size him up, I realized that I was about to get up close and personal with someone who wanted to fight over a parking spot. I guess his cone needed the space.

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