She stops in the middle of the intersection.
I honk again.
She is still.in.the.intersection!
Five or six cars are going by in the left-most lane and she’s just sitting there. I wonder if she’s stalled, but I don’t see any signs of distress.
Before the light turns, she makes a U-turn.
A U-Turn across two lanes going left.
I was enraged. I wanted to take her license plate number. I wanted to follow her and get out and shake my fist and tell her of all the terrible things that could have resulted from her complete inattentiveness to anyone’s safety. I wanted to ask her if getting to her destination 12 seconds faster was worth risking the life of me and my child.
And I was gut-wrenchingly thrown back into a time about 15 years ago when I WAS that careless driver.
I was driving from my part-time summer job, and was late meeting people for dinner. There was a lot of traffic and I knew that I could sit quite awhile trying to make a left into the restaurant parking lot. I saw an opening and I took it, barely missing a car that was turning right from a parking lot further down. We almost collided in one of those sickening moments where you inadvertently close your eyes, sure this is death.
We were both fine.
Or so I thought.
I grabbed my purse and was two feet from the door to the restaurant when the woman in the other car pulled up. She was hugely pregnant, and had two children in the backseat. She was crying and telling me how irresponsible I was.
In my heart, all I wanted in the world was to crawl in that car and tell her how sorry I was, to hug her children and her and tell her how reckless I was, how incredibly self-absorbed I was to think getting to that restaurant sooner was worth more than her children.
That’s in my heart now.
I regret that at the time, I rolled my eyes and fought the urge to say “seriously, lady, chill the eff out!” I gave her a snotty “Sorrrrry” in the vein of a 3-year-old faux-apologizing to a child whose toy he’s just blatantly stolen. And intends to keep.
She threatened to take my license plate down and I’m like “do what you gotta do.”
The truth is, I think of this woman often. When I was pregnant, I was almost in an accident that surely would have been fatal were we not in an amazingly new rental car with incredible anti-lock brakes. I immediately though back to that moment, how just one second of inattentiveness could have changed so many lives.