Leaving our neighborhood on my way to the gym, I waited for a traffic light to change to green, and when it did I started going. A small pickup truck came roaring from the right. I thought, he’s going awfully fast to stop in time. So I watched him, and sure enough, he didn’t stop. He ran the red light, turned directly into my lane in front of me, and took the right-of-way. I slowed down to avoid a collision and he took off like nothing had happened. His truck was brand new with paper plates, so I was surprised he’d be so careless, if for nothing else but his shiny red truck. Nutty drivers. You have to drive defensively all the time. Or they’ll hit you. And when the defensive driving isn’t enough, then Someone sometimes steps in and helps. That’s what happened to me later.
After my swim, I dropped by the library. As I left, my seatbelt suddenly released some slack. Odd, I thought. It’s never done that. So I cinched it back down tightly over my lap and shoulder while the possibility of car accidents tickled the edges of my thoughts. I thought of Carrie Fisher and how unexpectedly and suddenly things can happen.
After driving three blocks, I waited at a red light in a turn lane with my full attention on the cars going though the intersection, back and forth in front of me. No cars were waiting to cross the intersection opposite me, so I’d be able to turn left without needing to wait for any oncoming traffic to clear. It took a while to turn green because my road was a smaller side street crossing a busy boulevard. When the light changed, I had a moment that felt like a daydream, like I wasn’t really paying attention. Like my switch was turned off for a second. Shaking off the moment of hesitation, I put my foot on the accelerator to go, but then I just lifted my foot off. I actually thought, Why’d I do that? I’m coasting. I’m not going to get through this intersection if I don’t speed up. The moment was weird. I looked down through my driver’s window at the dip in the crosswalk I was coasting through and thought, slow’s okay; it’s a deep dip.
When I put my foot back down, I accelerated into the intersection and did one more sweep of the cars to my left waiting at their red light. It’s weird how much your mind can think in a split second. I thought that truck is too fast. How’s he going to stop? HE ISN’T STOPPING. I slammed on my brakes, and the truck flew past me. The jerk of the stop pulled against my seatbelt and made my neck sore, but I was held in place.
As the truck flew by, I could then see that it was a big, boxy ambulance. No lights, no sirens. It just flew past my nose and would have T-boned me right in the driver’s side if I’d been any farther into the intersection. But I’d been busy coasting through a dip, feeling dreamy and disconnected, so I wasn’t out in the middle yet. I checked the traffic light above me, just to make sure I wasn’t nuts. It was definitely green. I proceeded then and turned left, checking again to make sure there were no lights or sirens going on the back of the ambulance. Watching in my mirror, I saw it continue to the next intersection where cars were backed up waiting at another red light. It slowed to a stop and waited with all the rest of the traffic. No emergency. Just a driver who wasn’t paying attention and might be in the habit of ignoring red lights.
That’s happened to me once before just like that. I got a green light and just sat there. Then a truck flew past in front of me, running the red light. I’m thankful for these reminders that I’m not on my own. I’m thankful for the gift of not getting T-boned. When others do in fact have accidents, I don’t know why I’ve received these moments of mercy. It’s just like when I had four healthy undamaged babies when others I know who had high risk pregnancies had devastating outcomes, with deaths and brain damage to their little ones. It doesn’t make sense, and I know I’m not more special than they, but I must be thankful for the good things I experience. So I am grateful again. And humbled that I received the intervention. May we all have similar moments of knowing we aren’t on our own and mercy is there for everyone.
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