When I was seven years old, a friend of mine and I were walking on the sidewalk near my house. We were one house away from home when my teenaged neighbor pulled out of the driveway at idle speed, knocked my friend back and ran him over in her little Gremlin. I had narrowly escaped simply because he had been walking in front of me. The incident didn't do much more than traumatize the poor kid and mess up his clothing. That memory stuck with me, though. Over thirty years later, I still have nightmares about it. I can still hear him screaming as he goes under and I can still hear him crying while he's trapped under the car. Sometimes, I dream that it's me accidentally running him over. And, because of that, I have always been paranoid about making sure pedestrians aren't in front of me when I pull out. It never dawned on me that I'd actually be the pedestrian in that situation.
This afternoon, while I was walking to lunch with a friend, it happened. We set out into the cross walk, me first, him following. A college aged lady wasn't paying attention and proceeded to attempt a right turn on red while I was right in the center cross-hairs of her SUV. She was just idling, but her vehicle nudged my arm and she kept going. I nearly lost my balance but managed to brace my hands against her hood as I walked backward to attempt to keep from falling under. And, right in my mind, I saw my childhood friend falling under that Gremlin. I beat relentlessly on the woman's hood while getting dangerously close to the cross street. Thankfully, she heard the ruckus and stopped before any harm could come to me.
For the briefest of moments, I thought to myself how crappy it was that I was going to get pasted to the street by an SUV. I always imagined it would be a runaway beer truck. It had been such a good day. I had just dropped my daughter off at her grandmother's after an early dismissal and had promised to bring her McDonald's for dinner. I wondered how close I came to not being able to keep that promise. Later, though, I thought about how we all need little miracles like this to remind us not to take the world around us for granted and to live life in the now. And also to pay better attention to our surroundings.
Look right. Then left. Then right again. THEN turn.
I'm going to go crack open a bottle of Samuel Adams Octoberfest. And, I suspect it will be the best beer I've ever had.