(Warning: This post contains some minor graphic descriptions)
About five and a half hours ago, I was backing out of my driveway, complaining about the lack of air conditioning in my car, already sweating in the 90 something degree day. I was stressed about work and school. I was consumed in my day to day. I turned onto the large street near my house and began my hour long drive to work.
About five minutes later, I’m stuck in traffic, thinking about the long night of work ahead of me. I slow to let the car in the right lane over. He slams on his breaks to let the car ahead of him over. That car changed lanes abruptly – no signal, didn’t look, just came over. And that’s when everything I thought mattered: school, work, no air conditioning, dissipates.
In the right lane, a few feet ahead of me I see a man face down on the asphalt. He’s bent up, with his butt in the air and his legs like jelly. His bicycle is maybe a foot in front of him, on its side. There are three cars on the shoulder. A woman in a maxi skirt and sunglasses is kneeling beside the body gently tapping the man’s shoulders. There’s a man in cargo shorts behind her, standing, but with bent knees. His hand is covering his open mouth.
A woman – no, a girl – gets out of her driver’s seat trembling. God, she’s so young. Looks to be about 16. I turn my head further to look at her; I haven’t fully absorbed what’s happening. I feel cloudy. I know what I’m seeing isn’t correct, I know something is seriously, seriously wrong but I… I can’t place it. The girl’s eyes lock with mine. I realize I’m smiling, mid laugh about the traffic.
Then, it hits me.
The body. The girl. The woman in the maxi skirt.
I bite my lip and my heart skips one beat. Then two. Three.
I won’t forget what I saw for a while. Neither the maxi skirt woman, the man, or the young driver will forget for a lifetime. The biker, if he’s alive, will remember every moment from this day every time his grandson rides a bike or he sees someone riding one when he’s driving, his heart will start to race and tears will build up and he’ll feel his heart racing a million miles an hour.
Five and a half hours ago I thought I knew what was important. I was pissed about my motherfucking air conditioner. My air conditioner. Five minutes later I’d see a dead man on the side of the road.
Hug someone you love today.
Remember what actually matters in life.
And, please, wear a helmet and drive safe. Someone out there needs you.