5.07.2013

The Things You Think About as You're About to Die

At some of my poorest (financially and morally) moments, I sometimes wondered if I could "get lucky" and have some serious-but-not-fatal accident befall me so that I could sue the shit out of somebody and have my financial worries taken care of. Nevermind that in this scenario my financial worries are probably replaced with newer, more tragic worries like eating through a straw and pooping into bags for the rest of my life; in my head it was always something that was serious enough to give me a wicked scar or something but not too debilitating. I think for a brief time when the economy first crashed that became the new American Dream: surviving a horrific injury long enough to have your bills paid by someone else.

This morning I had the opportunity to cash in. Turns out my heart's not really in it (because it's still inside my body).

I was walking home from the coffee shop, Americano in hand, enjoying a cool, cloudy morning. There was a soft breeze at my back, birds were chirping, and joggers were out in full force as I walked home along the busy main drag that cuts through my neighborhood.

Suddenly, as I'm halfway across a side street intersection, I look up to see the grill of a Ford Explorer zooming up to meet me.

"MORNIN', MOTHERFUCKER!"

It's amazing to me how people can hurtle along through space, surrounded by literally tons of steel, and not even bother to look where they're going. 

What people say about time slowing down in moments of crisis like this is absolutely true. I know it's supposed to be about adrenaline or some other hormones boosting your sensory capacity and your thought process speeding up versus time actually changing, but it happens. And in the one or maybe two seconds it took for this car to close the gap, my thought process raced along as follows:

"Oh shit."
"She seriously doesn't see me. She's going to hit me."
"Let it happen. This is it. This is your pay day."

"Fuck that's a huge car."
"Okay, don't let it happen. With your luck you'll land on your brain or she'll drag you under the car for three miles before noticing she even hit you."

So instead of gritting my teeth and bracing for impact I opted for a different approach: I jumped back and yelled, "WHAT THE FUCK?!" while winding up to throw my coffee at the car, as if that would somehow affect the velocity of three thousand pounds of metal moving at roughly 30 mph.

Luckily the driver, a woman who looked to be in her 50s or 60s, turned (maybe at the sound of my screaming) and saw me with enough time to slam on her brakes. I glared at her for a moment before continuing on my way while doing my patented "I can't believe this shit" head shake. She turned left and headed past me down the street. I sipped my coffee while noting my hands were shaking and made it to the next intersection, determined to look both ways much more thoroughly from now on. As I got to the street I stopped and checked to my left.

There she was. The same Ford Explorer. 

My first thought was, "Oh god, she's come back to finish what she started. This is what I get for yelling at strangers, even if they're about to run me down in the street." But it turned out she was pulling a U-turn. What followed was what I hope will be the most awkward stare-down of that woman's life as I crossed the street in front of her. Again. She looked straight ahead, determined to ignore me out of existence.

Next time I'm totally suing.

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