I Almost Killed a Child Today...
Common Street Sign in Quebec
I guess it’s just in my nature. I can’t help it, I was raised a certain way, and I think everyone knows how hard it is to change an indoctrinated mind.
Every time I see a beautiful, smiling, child-like face…I just can’t help it. I make eye contact, and smile encouragingly. Usually, the child smiles back and I can see the trust in their eyes. They put their faith in me. And being an adult behind the wheel of a nice car, it’s only natural that they would.
In this particular moment I am stopped at a 4 way intersection. I notice a little girl on her bike waiting to make the crossing. She is hesitant to go, worried about the traffic. I wave her on, smiling, showing her that I will wait for her while she crosses. She smiles at me thankfully and, wobbly with her 9 year old legs, starts to ride ahead. I am watching her closely, pondering the days when my daughters will be old enough to ride their bikes alone.
But my pondering is interrupted by the screeching of tires and the sounds of honking horns and of the cries of a terrified little girl as she peddles as fast as her knobby knees can go.
I am frozen in fear and my heart is in my throat.
I watch in terrified silence as I see the little girl barely miss being hit by an impatient driver. Her face is a mask of fear as she furiously pumps the pedals of her little bike to get out of harms way. I am incredulous and instantly guilty at my most honest mistake:
The mistake of being a considerate driver in an inconsiderate environment. A mistake that almost killed a little girl today.
Courtesy Can Kill
Earlier, I was talking about my indoctrination. I was raised in a town where courtesy was a given. And by that, I mean to say that courtesy was always given to those who chose to go on foot. Or to those who chose to pedal. But above all, courtesy and care was always especially prevalent when it came to our children.
Drivers would stop half a kilometer away to let a child, or anyone for that matter, cross a pedestrian walkway. Even if people were jay-walking the street, it didn’t matter! People walking came first and they were respected for their choice and treated accordingly.
And that indoctrination was and is my biggest mistake in this little town in the Province of Quebec.
Don’t get me wrong, the people here in Quebec are lovely. Kind and fun and exciting and vibrant. It is a beautiful place and wonderful to live here. But there is something strange and terrible that happens to a good number of Quebeckers when they get behind the wheel of their cars.
In a Hurry? Remember This...
The previously sweet and docile Madame Morasse, for example, becomes a speed demon who just sprouted horns and is in such a big hurry that she can’t wait for the mother with 3 kids standing in the pouring rain to cross the street in front of her and impatiently plows ahead leaving the cold and shivering family in her wake of dirty spray.
And the usually funny and witty Monsieur Leclerc has suddenly decided that no one is busier than he is when he is behind the wheel of his truck, and a child waiting to cross an intersection on her bike has all the time in the world, so no matter what, he is going, even if another driver has encouraged the child to cross; hence, the little girl that I almost killed today.
It is a mystery to me how such a friendly and loving people can turn into such impatient, cranky boors when they are seated in their automobiles. It seems they cannot see past the clock on their dash, ticking away the minutes as if it is their last on earth.
But I would like to take this time, a time that scared me so horribly, to point out something that maybe you drivers aren’t really seeing.
IF you kill a child… IF, in your hurry and impatience, you injure a child or God forbid, kill a child…those minutes that were ticking away on your dashboard WILL be your last on earth. Because believe me, you will not be able to live with yourself knowing that you killed a child simply to get to work in time.
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