Dec. 10th, 2013 (journal entry I decided to share)
I almost got killed yesterday. Missed, by about 1/4 second, getting crushed between two cars at a crosswalk. One car was stopped and the other genius decided, with no warning, to back up at around 30 miles an hour. I had taken one step past the stopped car when the collision happened. Turned around with the sound of impact and saw the cars bounce off each other.
It was so strange and powerful and bizarre–how often does a guy just back up at speed on West End Ave in the city without even looking in his rearview–that the guy in the stopped car, a Russian who spoke like a movie villain Russian, got out of his car, looked at me and said, “why that guy wants to kill you?” He said this like that could be the only rational reason for the crazy driver’s move. And also like he’d seen THAT move before.
And then the CD got out of his vehicle, and it all became clear. He was just an addled jerk who had made a mistake on a Monday morning drive to work. Was he texting? Did he forget that his car was in reverse? I’ll never know. I just stood there for a second. Well, to be honest, first I got right in his face and screamed at him that he was a dumb motherfucker who almost killed me and what the fuck was-a-matter with his stupid fucking brain. Not proud. But it happened. ANYWAY, after I was done yelling, and he was done half-heartedly apologizing, the Russian and he started discussing bashed-in front ends and insurance (funny, neither one wanted to bring insurance into it), and forgot about me. And I just stood there, in the middle of the street, staring at the damage, dazed and aware at the same time that the scene could have been entirely different. I could have been lying there, dead or bleeding out or, at best, with shattered legs, barely conscious and hoping that between them, the Russian and Crazy Driver had a cell phone contract that was still in effect.
Finally, I moved on, casting one look back at them still standing at that intersection, still negotiating who was going to call in what favor to get the bodywork done.
As I was walking to the office, it occurred to me that exactly nothing had actually happened to me. An accident happened to two other guys after I moved past. The fact that it almost happened to me was jarring because of the proximity. But mostly just because I happened to notice. And because the accident was loud.
It got me to thinking about how many collisions we miss all the time, or that just miss us. How many apartments we walk by that have had unbelievable acts of violence happen in them, how many doors we pass not having any idea that something brutal might be occurring at that very moment.
It’s true, looked at one way, I was seconds from death. But looked at another way, with the weight of the earth’s time, aren’t we all, at every moment, seconds from death?
Amy (my wife–this parens was not in journal entry. It’s for you to follow) is a genius at understanding this and at living in the present, in the very moment, appreciating all of it. I am not. Though I try.
And I am determined to try harder.
Two guys smashed into each other in the street. I could have spent the rest of the day, week, month, year dwelling on how close I came. Instead, when I got to the office, I sat down and began to write.
Because I was here. I was unharmed. And I am lucky enough to do something I love. Most days, I don’t really think of it that way.
Yesterday I did.
Today I’m gonna try real hard to.
2 thoughts on “1/4 second from death”
About two weeks ago, biking to my ‘real’ gig, got the green light. Spidey-sense tingles – spot a car rolling to the red, I can see the driver texting. I lock up the brakes – he runs the red, misses me by a pubic hair, t-bones the SUV passing me on the left.
Checked on the SUV, no injuries. The texting idiot? Told him that if I had a gun, I’d have already shot him. Then I punched him the face, hopped back on the bike, and continued on.
Tis the season.
I sense a story brewing in your head. months from now when you sell the script i can share a little in your near death experience and smile that writers change the sequencing of events to tell a parable that might resonate with millions.