I nearly killed a man on Friday.
Driving home from Keys On Main, I swerved out of the way on 700 East and 1300 South as a skateboarder darted in front of me. He was dressed in all black and elected to run the light. Slamming the breaks with both feet, my truck’s brakes locked and I swerved out of the way. Missing the skateboarder by less than a foot, my truck slide around having me facing northbound when I needed to be going south.
Terrifying. Absolutely terrifying.
Because there were cars bearing down on me and it was past 2am, there was nothing to do but unlock the brakes and make a hard U-turn to get out of the way. Trying to breath as I continued home, I wonder if the skater knew how close he came to being killed. Killed for absolutely no good reason. Instead of waiting for the speeding cars to pass him, he played fast and loose with his life and nearly changed two lives.
If I had hit him at 44mph squarely, he would have been killed instantly. I would have stopped, called the police and waited by him for the paramedics to arrive to declare him dead. My life would have been altered immeasurably by running him down even though I wasn’t speeding or driving under the influence. His impulse to jaywalk would have been the end of him and I hate that I still think about that purely instinctive driving maneuver kept him off of my front grill.
I’m haunted by this near-death experience. Not because I worried about my safety or the repercussions. I’m haunted because no street crossing should jeopardize anyone. It helps to assume he was drunk or high only in that makes sense to me. The fact that he was dressed all in black makes it inexcusable that he risked everything crossing but none of that matters. I missed him and he skated off into the night.
I wonder if he thinks of me.
My job surrounds me with drunks and I am comfortable with their irrational behavior. More than that, I profit by it—drinkers pay my salary. It’s a chaotic mess to the uninitiated but behind the bar, I can cut through the madness. From my vantage point, I understand why people party and drink and make fools of themselves. I don’t agree with drinking and driving but I understand it. I want everyone to get home safely but I appreciate that inebriated people make horrific decisions.
Because there will be no resolution to the near collision with the skateboarder, I’ve decided that I need to make some sort of change to put closure on last Friday night’s incident. I’ve teased designated drivers for years and I’m done with this ridiculous bullying. No more. Secondly, I’m going to be quicker to cut people off. I’ve poured drinks for people who have clearly had enough. It’s not appropriate and I’ve been pretty inappropriate for long enough.
Besides, drunks make for horrible customers.
I want to say damn you to the skater but I doubt I will ever see him much less than recognize him if I did. I imagine that we suffer near catastrophic moments everyday of our lives and never even notice it. I guess we’d never get out of bed if we knew how dangerous this world is. Probably for the better that we don’t.