Wednesday, March 16, 2016

from the road

Too near death today...

I rolled up to the red light at Rt.29 and Killian/Indian Trail today, heading back from the park in Lilburn. It's a broad, busy intersection. I was first in line in the left northbound lane, the lane to my right was empty. Some kind of police activity going in the gas station on the corner there. Two cars, blue lights. First responders.

There were no cars passing through the intersection. A pedestrian crossed in front of me. He had the light, he was in the crosswalk.

I saw this: a man, sixty-ish, silver-haired, tan, fit and smiling. Taking a pull from a soft drink. Crisp, striped short sleeved shirt, pressed khakis, a gold watch on his wrist, he was close enough that he might have gotten crud on his pants from my bumper. He was watching the cop show too, head up, eyes front, not stuck to some damn gadget.

He was in line with the passenger seat of my car ready to take a step into eternity when a flatbed truck - the big kind that can carry two wrecks - blew by us at forty or fifty miles an hour right through the red light. He never touched his brakes.

The man staggered back, steadied himself with a hand on my Honda's hood. We were both shocked, but he checked for further traffic and crossed, the light turned green and I rolled, but not before I looked up and saw that there was a camera on the intersection. There might still be some justice.

All the rest of the way home I couldn't stop thinking about how a few seconds of life, one way or the other and this man would have been killed gruesomely right in front of me and many other witnesses. How it might have been me, first off the line, tires squealing in my imagination as my decrepit Honda rolled out across the intersection to be t-boned by the behemoth. Either of us deader than shit.

Take the pause that was forced on me today. I will. And if the guy behind me honks his horn I may toss him a wave, a peace sign or the NY bird depending on my mood.

So, my darlings behind the wheel everywhere. You, with the lightning reflexes of a race car driver who will nail that gas pedal the micro-second the light turns green. Please wait. Don't take that light on faith. Feel your heart beat three or four times and look around before you proceed. These seconds are yours. Cherish them.
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