Crash into Me
I was out with the boyos, to deposit a check. I pulled up in the lane behind a red Neon. The driver, for reasons known only to him, decided to throw the car in reverse. I’m so sleep-deprived that all I could do was watch the lit-up taillights come closer while thinking, ‘A car is about to hit mine while the boyos are in the back seat. I need to do something. How does my horn work? Ooops, too late.’
I watched the driver jump, then slump. There was that inevitable pause, while I’m sure he debated getting out of the car. But he did, all six and a half feet of him, at least. I wondered how he managed to squeeze himself into that itty-bitty Neon. It must have been a clowncar.
His pants added to that clownish perception. They were the most amazing plaid. Busy little lines crossed and re-crossed his eight-foot-long legs like city blocks. This guy must have gone waaaaay out of his way to find these things. The only reason I was able to tear my eyes away from his pants was because he was bald and wearing horn-rimmed glasses, and I am such a sucker for that. I couldn’t tell if he was the nerdiest guy I’d ever seen or the hippest.
But I could tell he was one of the saddest. His face was pure tragedy. A big, tall twenty-something Emmet Kelley, he waved his hands in the air.
“Oh my gosh…oh my gosh, I’m sooooo sorry!” he said, his eyes actually tearing up.
“It’s ok,” I said in my most soothing voice, the one I use on little injured animals. “Here, let’s take a look, ok? I’m sure everything is fine.”
Our cars were locked together, front bumper to back.
“Oooohhh…..” he said.
“It’s oooookaaaayyy,” I said. “Just get in your car and pull a little forward.”
“Ok.” He stood there, staring.
“Go ahead.” I smiled until he turned around, got in his car and pulled forward. As soon as he did, I could see that nothing was damaged, since both our cars are made out of that dent-proof, metal/plastic/chewing gum alloy stuff.
He got back out of the car and walked slowly back toward me, head hunched between his shoulders, blue eyes shining behind those horn-rims, and I realized something.
I had this guy completely at my mercy.
“See? No damage,” I said. “Everything is fine.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sooooo sorry!” He bobbed back and forth from one foot to the other.
“It’s ok. Now I want you to take a deep breath, ok?”
“Now. This is the worst thing that will happen to you today, and it’s not bad at all is it?”
“No it’s not. Bad. Not bad.”
He smiled. I watched the tension ease out of his body. I expected to see it rise off him like heat waves.
“Thank you,” he said, over and over.
“Ok. No problem. Take care then.” And we got in our cars.
As I watched him drive away, I wondered how something so small could make him that upset. I thought how sad or frustrating or lonely his life must be, and I wished I could have talked to him longer.
I also wondered at the power I felt, at what a rush it was to soothe him, to assure him that everything was all right, that he was fine, that I could send him back to his life without the added frustration of a ticket for a fender bender.
And, I’d like to draw your attention to a new comic site I’ve found. Step on over to the left and clicky-click on “Pinch of the Glass”, (or even click right here, if you're too lazy) by a fellow named Andy. He’s funny and twisted and brilliant and a Brit – everything I love in a man!