Well, Happy New Year indeed. This is how I’m kicking off 2012; nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, I guess.
I was out walking Jessica’s dog Brown in my neighborhood yesterday, when I got hit by a car. It happened at one of those double-T intersections where the cross street ends, then picks back up again further down the block. I was on the main road, approaching the near T-junction, when I saw a the car stop at the far T ahead. He had his blinker on to turn right onto the main street, and I made Brown stop and wait until I was sure of what he was going to do. He turned, and then it appeared he was going to continue straight, right on past me, so I started crossing the street at my T-junction. At the last second, without using his turn signal, he veered to the left, right into my intersection. I yelled for him to stop, but he never saw or heard me. I tried to run out of the way, but he was accelerating, so he hit my left leg before I could clear his car. I went flying forward, crashed on the pavement and dropped the leash, Brown spooked and kept running, and the driver screeched to a halt and jumped out of the car. He was just a kid—sixteen, according to the police report—and even more shaken up than I was. I told him to call 9-1-1, and while he did that, several witnesses ran up to help me out of the street and bring Brown back. The emergency crew was there within minutes, and I had to laugh when the EMT checked me in at the ER and gave the official accident code to the techs: Car vs. Pedestrian. Maybe if the car had been a Smart Car and the pedestrian a Sumo wrestler, things would have ended differently.
I keep thinking of all the ways this could have been worse. If he’d been driving an SUV instead of a compact car. If I’d been one second late in crossing. If I’d been two seconds late in crossing. If he hadn’t stopped. If it had been raining, or dark outside. If there hadn’t been anyone nearby to help. All things considered, I’m mostly okay, and very lucky to be so—but it’s bad enough. I’ve got some sort of knee injury that x-rays couldn’t determine, and I can’t call to make an MRI appointment until tomorrow (happy New Year). I’ve got an impressive collection of scrapes and bruises, and while there’s no walking or driving (stick shift) in my foreseeable future, there are a lot of phone calls to make.
So all of a sudden, all I have in the world is time. I’m trying to fill it with joyful, quietly productive things, because it makes the waiting easier. And I’ve never been more glad that we traditionally don’t take the Christmas tree down until Twelfth Night.
As I sit, and sip, and stitch, and sit, I wish more and more for some way to thank the unknown Tacomans who helped me yesterday. The man who helped assess my injuries, lent me a phone to call home, and retrieved Brown. The woman who kept me talking in case of a concussion. The fireman who was so kindly and apologetic about the logistical questions he had to ask. The EMTs who assured me I wasn’t silly, and insisted I accept the “fuss” of an ambulance ride. The police officer who came to see me in the emergency room. Even the shaken teenager who knew enough to do the right thing.
And I wish for everyone else behind the wheel out there to stay present in the moment. Because sometimes looking both ways isn’t enough.