Wednesday, June 29, 2011

On the Corner of Knox and Cole

Tonight, Di and I witnessed someone get hit by a car.  I guess that’s not completely true: Di watched someone get hit by a car. I was looking across the street at a wedding dress shop. I wouldn’t—for the life of me—be able to recite the boutique’s name; I do remember, however, that the left window was stolen by the simplicity of a white gown. A bright florescent light reflected off the dress and streamed out the glass and off onto the sidewalk. Two magenta bridesmaid dresses, arced in a soft angle in the opposite window making it hard for anyone to take their eyes away.  It was only 10 seconds or so that that I examined the store. That’s when it happened: I heard the car make impact with a pedestrian.  The noise, unfamiliar to me, wasn’t outstanding enough to lift my gaze. It sounded as if a child purposely jumped off a diving board to knock themselves unconscious with a belly flop. Had it not been for Di, I wouldn’t have thought much about the noise. 

My paced had slowed from the minor distraction across the street.  When I looked up, I was staring at the back of Di’s shoulders and head. She had her cell phone pressed tightly to her left ear (she was talking with her husband about the daily events); that gave me enough time to see her whole reaction. Her hair swayed along the base of her back as she stopped to register the event that just occurred.  Her purse slid from her shoulder to the natural angle in her arm causing her body to sway slightly to the left (she didn’t look comfortable; I’m pleased I took the wine from her) That’s when she began to yell into her phone: “Oh my god, Greg! Someone just got hit! I’ll call you back. I’ll I’ll call you back.”

Di began to run towards the corner of Knox and Cole. My pace quickened to match hers, but it hadn’t registered to me what really had happened (the two paragraphs of description and scenario doesn’t do it justice).  It wasn’t until Di stopped to call 911 that I saw the lady sitting in the street.  Cars were parked, unmoving at the intersection. There was a gold expedition parked diagonally shortly after the crosswalk; the driver’s door was ajar.  Instead of creating a mess via hit-and-run, the driver reacted to the situation faster than anyone (I guess you would hope that she would). Feeling guilty and upset, the driver did the only natural thing she could think of doing: hugging, coddling and petting the pedestrian’s head.

The pedestrian appeared to be in her late 40’s or early 50’s. She reminded me of a child with her appearance. Her right shoe remained intact while the other sat on the sidewalk behind me. Her hair gathered in clumps across her face, and you could tell she didn’t know how to react to the situation. Should I be hurt? Should I cry? What just happened?

 The lady braced herself with her left arm, resisting the temptation to lay on the ground. It was obvious I couldn’t do much to help. In a way, it felt as if I was back at the YMCA telling children not to touch their friends after they have had a hard fall from the monkey bars.  The lady’s appearance strongly resembled that look. You could see evidence of her injury (luckily she wasn’t bleeding) Her right elbow received most of the impact, but her left ankle was visibly swollen from the power of the car turning her body.

We approached the two women.  Di was ending her conversation with 911, and I began to communicate to the driver that touching an injured person isn’t a smart idea. At that moment, I knew there was a language barrier.  The driver knew very little English. She tried to talk to me, she tried to talk to the person beside me—she simply wanted to communicate her woes to anyone who could understand.

Within moments of Di taking over the care of the pedestrian, the driver was on her cellphone. I watched this short, brunette pace around as she explained to someone the events that occurred.  Phone call after phone call she would close her phone, defeated. In a strange way, I found these moments to be breathtaking. The driver’s sorrow gripping tightly around her conscience weighed heavy on my heart.  It didn’t matter that we came from different backgrounds, and it didn’t matter that we couldn’t verbally understand each other. I understood her emotions and what she was trying to convey.  The driver came and stood beside me, hopeless, lightly shaking her head.

 In a moment of impulse, I placed my right hand on her back. I really wanted to hug her—but for the good of everyone, I restrained my emotional self.  She looked up searching for help, searching for answers. I could my small touch went a long way for the both of us. In the jumbled mess of confusion she sought comfort in the simple touch of my hand—and that truly meant a lot to me.

At that point, Di was trying to make the pedestrian feel comfortable. She offered her water; she offered her small, leather purse as support; she even helped to contact the family.  Even after the victim’s family arrived (they were there faster than the ambulance), Di sat with her, concerned.  It was really important for her to make sure she was provided for (after all, she was one of few that actually witnessed the impact).

By that time, the corner of Knox and Cole had gathered a plethora of looky-loos. I stood with my back to Chilli’s examining the crowd “window shopping” across the street. In waves, a downpour of mist would whisk over those close to the sidewalk. The intersection lights turned from green to yellow to red. Some drivers were able to sneak by; others were caught in the drama of the accident.  I watched many drivers attempt to stare holes through their car windows.

Shortly after the ambulance began its trip to the hospital, Di and I were able to sneak away—that, of course, was after all the questioning. What angle where you standing at when you saw this? Was the light green?  Was the driver looking? Can I get your information?

Needless to say, the evening was interesting. Our get-away car was even parked at the scene of the accident.  The corner of Knox and Cole had been a noteworthy destination that evening; one that many won’t forget.

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