Into the Great Unknown... Almost
I had a near death experience last night.
I've come close to death before, nearly being swept away by the ocean when I was a child (as told in my poem The Perfect Stick ), nearly choking on my own vomit from youthful extravagances, spinning out (twice) on the interstate. Things like that.
For the most part, I'm pretty unadventurous and live an uneventful life. I like it that way. Safety is my adrenaline rush. I don't hike or climb rocks or drive erratically. I enjoy living and I don't do things that have a potential to interfere with that enjoyment.
Last night, I was walking to exchange something at Walgreen's. I waited at the crosswalk and, when the light indicated it was my turn to walk, I did so, and I did so swiftly. One of my pet peeves is when people take their time walking across the crosswalk (if they can help it. Obviously, the elderly, the infirm and the disabled are going to have a harder time crossing a crosswalk and, as such, I extend them grace). Dillydallying and inconveniencing others, is not for me. I don't like it when it's done to me, so i don't do it to others.
Apparently, when you're young and fighting with your girlfriend, though, all bets are off.
As I was crossing, a large sedan driven by someone whom I can only assume is a royal douche bag, ran the red light and was barreling towards me. Yes, this was night time, but it's a well lit, major intersection, and I was wearing clothes that would be very visible to anyone who paid even an ounce of attention to the road (which is what i assume people driving should be doing). This person wasn't and they were driving, quite fast, directly into my path. He was distracted by the apparent argument taking place within the vehicle. There is no way I could have moved out of the way fast enough.
My wife always tells me that you shouldn't turn your wheels in towards the crosswalk. If someone rear ends you, it could cause your car to run over the person in the crosswalk. It happened a few years ago in Bellingham, Washington, where she is from. I remember thinking those thoughts when that car was coming towards me. Then, I realized the car was AIMING towards me. I'm sure it was not a literal aiming, but it certainly felt that way. I saw my life in slow motion. I said a quick prayer (well, I didn't actually. What was actually said was "What the f*ck?") and hoped if they were going to hit me I'd either be killed or unscathed, because I had no desire to live my life as a handicapped person.
And then the car....
No squealing of brakes. No swerving. Just a flat stop. Like the car engine died. It felt, like a guardian angel just forced the car to a stop.
I, of course handled the situation with class and dignity. I lifted my middle finger towards the driver, who refused to look at me, and yelled "What the f*ck? Watch where the f*ck you're going!"
You'll have to forgive my reaction. It was just that: a reaction.
He said nothing, didn't even look at me, and drove off. There was a witness to the event which, of course, made me wonder if I'd been hit, would the driver have sped off, leaving me to be devoured by the oncoming cars, or would they have stopped and summoned help.
What would I have done in that situation?
It didn't hit me how close I was to death until I got home. I'm pretty sure I went into shock. I laid on my bed and stared at the wall for who knows how long, I began to shiver, my whole body tensed up (typical fight or flight response, from what I understand) and I was freezing. Later, nausea came. I couldn't speak for a half hour, if not longer. My wife came in to check on me and asked if I wanted to talk about it. I shrugged. I couldn't speak. I didn't know what to say. I forgot how to talk. All I could do was replay the situation in my mind. I was filled with anger, relief, shame, and many other emotions I could in no way describe.
I'm not much of a prayer anymore, but my wife and I prayed and thanked the Good Lord for sparing me.
And of course it taught me to be even more patient with crosswalks and to never ever run red lights. To keep my eyes on the road and my attention focused on the driving task at hand. It's okay to take a few extra minutes to get home. My impatience and inattention is not worth injuring or killing someone.