Coming ThisClose To A Tragedy
I almost ran down someone the other day.
I had stopped at the mouth of a driveway, getting ready to turn right. I checked left for oncoming cars. No cars. I started forward and stomped on the brakes.
Two young women had walked right in front of my car. I stopped; they jumped. I think the front bumper actually made brief contact with the bare skin on one girl’s shorts-clad leg.
Holy mother of the universe. Oh my god.
I lowered the window and called out, “Sorry!” But of course, that was inadequate and lame. The girls just glared as they continued to the sidewalk on the other side. I was not forgiven. I didn’t blame them at all.
I had no excuse, good or bad. I was not talking on a cellphone. I was not texting. I was not applying makeup in the rear-view mirror, or eating or sipping from my coffee mug.
I was not distracted.
I was careless. Period.
I can tell you, almost injuring or killing someone really shakes you up. That near-hit scared the heck out of me, and I actually felt sick.
My timid took over, and I hyperventilated my way home. Heart pounding, slow as a snail, I checked, double-checked and triple-checked every sign, every turn, every movement on the roads and off. My eyes scanned the streets so hard I thought they’d fall out of my head. By the time I pulled into our garage I was exhausted.
Wish I could say it wasn’t my fault. Can’t. My one moment of inattention could have been disastrous for the girls and for me.
It’s always good, of course, to remember — or relearn — the lessons you learned when you were young. I realized that decades of driving had made me complacent and sloppy.
I don’t think I’m alone in this. Don’t we all complain about careless and bad drivers every day? Drivers who are distracted, aggressive, unaware of their surroundings?
You know what I’m talking about. Perhaps you may be a little bit guilty yourself. But that doesn’t excuse me. Just because I’m not the worst offender out there doesn’t make it at all OK.
I was lucky. That one fraction of a moment of inattention could have changed everything.
What a wakeup call.
That got me thinking: What else have I become careless about over the years?