Something interesting happened yesterday evening.
I had been working on a lazy Saturday and decided to meet some friends for dinner. So, I started out at one friend’s house, we called in an order at a local restaurant, and got ready to pick it up.
Interestingly, we had been playing a video game, and decided to turn it off and leave a little early. We hadn’t planned on it, but it just sort of worked out that way. We dallied for another moment, then got out the door.
We pulled away and made a left and started toward the restaurant. We were talking. Minding our own business. Chatting about some issue or another. All of a sudden, I hear my friend say, “He’s gonna run the…”
And just like that, a car barreling full speed through a red light smashed into another car proceeding on the green. But smashed. T-bone. We saw it all. Solid red light. Go-ahead green.
The car heading southbound flipped up, landed on its side, and skidded into the curb. The other car spun around. It all happened so fast, and yet so slow…like in a dream. Dust. Steam. A faint scream. There was no time to think. I jumped out of the car, called 9-1-1, and helped the dispatcher determine injuries.
And would you believe? Everyone walked away. A full speed T-bone and everyone was safe. One minor injury, but safe. Alive. By the way, it was an Audi SUV and a Lexus sedan, so I think maybe I’ll be looking into those cars someday.
Anyway, the reason I’m blogging this horrific event is this: everyone that witnessed it jumped out of their cars and rushed to help. Out of the SUV they pulled a man, woman, and child, and out of the other car, three more adults. Nobody asked if people were Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. It didn’t matter if a Democrat was behind the wheel, or a Republican. It was all hands on deck as people pried doors open and gingerly helped the people in the cars.
We all waited patiently to give our statements to the police and asked if there was any way we could be of assistance. After some time, we all went our separate ways, melting back into the world and moving our wheels down the streets once again to take our own chances.
As my friend and I got back into our car, the woman who’d been in the SUV only minutes before, trapped sideways by her seatbelt, was walking with her son to get into a car with friends to go see her husband who went to the hospital with some broken ribs. On her way by, she smiled at me and said, “Thank you!”
I didn’t do much, mind you. Just barked out at the scene on the orders of the 9-1-1 dispatcher, “Is everyone okay? Are there any people trapped?” Now, I did that with authority and with the intent of determining if they needed to bring the Jaws of Life, but then I faded into the scenery again. Just a dude with a phone under a tree at an accident scene.
But it got a “thank you” from a woman who’s dreams tonight will be more difficult than mine.
Anyway, life is full of so much that is terrible. And we in Nobody Nation gather every day to go to work, pay our bills, and eat anonymously at restaurants. But sometimes…well, sometimes, we are called together to be more than the background to everyone else’s lives.
Sometimes we have to pull together to pull people out. We have to make a call to get help. We have to just be present to witness others as they are carted away on a stretcher. We ask if we can help. We do what we can. And we don’t care about the other person’s beliefs. We just want to make a difficult time a bit easier. Our problems suddenly don’t matter…or, shrink down in the face of a larger issue. All gains perspective and we realize that what was so important is only so until something else envelops it, swallowing it whole in the need to take action on someone else’s behalf.
I won’t forget this accident anytime soon. It was horrifying.
But then again, I won’t forget that “thank you” either. Perhaps that is the best part about the difficulties of our anonymous lives is this: we occasionally recognize each other for who we really are, instead of who we assume ourselves to be.