Look both ways

About a year ago, I had a confrontation with the driver of the car that almostimages-11 knocked me down as I was crossing the street. With the green light. With the pedestrian signal in my favour. In a crosswalk. In broad daylight.

I was SO ANGRY! That cow came so close to me before screeching to a halt that I had time to consider where it would hurt the least when her bumper hit me, and to make my decision to jump up right before impact because I thought that way she wouldn’t run me over, that I would roll up over the hood of the car (and possibly smash my head into the windshield. But I didn’t have enough time to consider that possibility, apparently.).

Anyway, she stopped a scant 20 or 30 centimetres from me, and as I came back down from jumping, I slammed my two hands forcefully on the hood of her car. Heart pounding, I glared at the stupid woman.

She rolled down her window. “Sorry.”

Sorry. That’s it? She didn’t sound at all sorry. I stayed right in front of her car and started screaming at her.

“Sorry?! That doesn’t quite cut it! You just about fucking KILLED me, you idiot! How did you ever get your license?!”

She stared at me balefully. “I didn’t see you. Sorry.” Deadpan.

“No kidding you didn’t see me! I guess you didn’t see the pedestrian light or the crosswalk either, did you!”

By this time, cars were backing up behind her. People in cars and on the street were staring. I stayed in front of her and kept shouting. I just couldn’t believe that she expressed so little remorse. I couldn’t believe that I of all people had come so very close to being hit by a car, a car driven by someone who seemed to be that stupid that she didn’t realize the gravity of what she had almost done.

The light changed. People started honking. I gave her one last “You’re a moron!” and dashed to the median in the middle of the road. She continued on her merry way, followed by the vehicles that had been stopped behind her. When the road was clear again, I scurried to the opposite side and stood there for a few minutes to catch my breath before heading up the hill and continuing home myself.

I was upset about that for a long time, mainly because of her non-reaction, not really because I almost got smacked by a car. If it had been me, I told myself, I would have been absolutely guilt-ridden and anguish-filled, and I would have been shaking for a week.

images4Then today, driving home, I was at a busy intersection waiting to turn left. There was a gap in the oncoming traffic. I started to go. And there was a woman walking in the crosswalk. And I didn’t see her right away. I did stop safely though, albeit a bit more suddenly than I would have liked, and she stopped too. She gave me a look, I put both my hands up and mouthed, “I’m sorry!”, and she finished crossing the street safely without giving me another glance.

Some people are just so zen. I, on the other hand, trembled almost all the rest of the way home.

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8 responses to “Look both ways

  1. That happened to me. If I hadn’t hit the guy’s hood, he would have run me over. I was at a crosswalk, I had the light and the asshole was on the phone.

    AND he had the gall to yell at me for hitting his beemer. Asswipe.

  2. Gossamer Woman – When I was last in the Netherlands (2006), I was really good at avoiding the cars, but I almost got knocked over by a bike about three times. That was in Amsterdam, however. The rest of the country’s cyclists were much more forgiving.

  3. In the Netherlands, pedestrians rule and they know it too. You constantly have to be on the look out for stray ones. Everybody in a car or on a bike is very alert for them. They just step of the sidewalk and cross the street as if they are taking a stroll in a park. I swear a lot.

  4. Please don’t ever venture near Spain! Pedestrian crossings don’t exist as far as drivers are concerned who are, additionally, color blind re traffic lights. No wonder every person you see crossing a street crosses himself first…

    • Nora – Oddly enough, whenever I am in Europe (or New York City or even MontrĂ©al), I assimilate completely to the (non-)rules of being a pedestrian and have never had a whit of trouble crossing any street there, ever. It’s like I know exactly what to expect: no one will ever stop for me and I take my life in my hands when I step off the curb. Here, you just never know who’s playing by which rules!

  5. Hannah – That’s an awful story! Your poor friend! How is she now? I’ll bet that incident has made you even more careful when you’re a pedestrian.

    XUP – You’re absolutely right: incompetent people driving cars are a curse on society. And then those already incompetent people figure it’s perfectly fine while driving to put on their makeup, make and receive phone calls and even worse, read books propped up on the steering wheel!

  6. I can’t even tell you how many times I was almost hit by cars driven by oblivious drivers. I guess they get into such close calls so often that it doesn’t even register with them anymore — all part of the business of driving around like a moron. Licenses are far, far, far too easy to get and to keep in North America (one of my favourite hobby horses). Too many cars, too many retarded drivers, far too many people killed and maimed in and by cars every day in this country. We get all bent out of shape about the possibility of some people getting “swine flu” when cars are killing more people every day that the swine flu could in 5 years. The real pandemic is the automobile and the incompetent people operating them.

  7. Traffic can be so damn hairy! I have a friend who actually was hit by a speeding car and spent months in rehab. Oh and the asshole who hit her? He drove off. Hit and run. Worst of all was the fact that she was lying on the road and no one helped her.

    Some sections of humanity suck so bad.