I’m sitting at the traffic light on Staples. I’m maybe the fifth car in line at the stoplight in two lanes of traffic.
I look over.
I’m sitting next to a Ford F-350. If you’re from Texas, you know what it is. If you’re not, it’s the pickup you would get if you were making a movie where Stallone is the gruff but gritty sheriff of a small town in need of some old-fashioned sheriffing. It’s big. Idling next to my tiny 1988 Honda Civic hatchback, it’s enormous.
I gaze up at it as we sit. I feel like a 3-year-old looking up at an NBA player. It’s huge and heavy and imposing and a tank. I wonder why anyone would drive something so ridiculously heavy around the city.
And then out of the corner of my eye I see it.
A red car is coming up from behind at about 45 mph. It’s not slowing down at all.
The car slams into the truck without the slightest bit of braking. My first thought: Texting. My second thought: I hope they’re OK. My third thought: Damn, I’m glad that wasn’t me.
It’s all weird at that point. I hear car parts bouncing along the road. There’s a second of quiet, that calm after the storm. And then the light changes.
The cars ahead of me all take off, so I follow. I’m a runner, and that’s what we do. Always follow the person in front of you in a race. They might know where they’re going, right? It’s a busy intersection in a block full of businesses, so I figure they don’t need for nonexistent EMS skills. And this isn’t going to be a crash requiring witnesses to tell the cops who was at fault. So I continue on.
Mostly, I’m in shock.
What if that car had been in the right lane instead of the left? It would have plowed into me instead. My car’s frame ceased to be functional back in the 80s. I don’t have those Fancy Boy things they call “air bags.” And for years I’ve suspected my seat belt is purely for ornamental purposes. Plus, the car is so light that I would have been smashed into the car in front of me, turning the Honda into an accordion, and not in that amusing Al Yankovich sort of way. Perm sold separately.
I would have died.
Mo and I were running along the bayfront a couple of days ago when she pointed out that cars were going by 5 feet from us at 40 mph. Shouldn’t we be worried? Nah, I said. Nobody ever crashes. You shouldn’t worry so much.
After a couple of blocks, with equal measures guilt and curiosity, I make a U-turn to drive back by. A cop is already there, directing traffic. An ambulance siren is screaming in the distance. A girl, maybe 16, is sitting on the curb, bawling. Is she hurt? Is she in disbelief? Is she thinking about that “LOL” she was sending just before she slammed into a brick wall? Her car, some sort of midsize sedan thing, is now about half as long as it was in its previous life. But she’s alive. OMG.
Funny thing is, I didn’t even look at the F-350. I guess I should have, but I suspect it was just one of those scratched bumper, bent the trailer hitch things. There’s much to be said for six miles per gallon, I suppose.
I go home, then run on a treadmill at the gym, where a car would have to work extremely hard to run over me, and go to work.
Life is fleeting. Pick your lane and hope for the best. Mo says we’re buying an F-350. I guess I’ll start looking for a lawless town that could use some sheriffing.
It was just another day I didn’t die …