Thursday, March 22, 2007

Pizza And Pedestrians

Last night was in impromptu pizza night. Those are usually reserved for Friday night, and afterwards we usually break out a movie and shift from pizza night into movie night.

I don’t recall exactly how our dinner table conversation moved to a story that happened 20 years ago, but it did. I told the girls about the day Poppy (their grandfather/my father) plowed into a young girl while driving his Ford Taurus, and sent her flying through the air. I should probably mention now that she was not seriously hurt, but we sure thought she was when it happened.

My father, mother and sisters Natalie and Carla and I were packed into the family car and headed to a pizza joint for dinner. We were headed south on route 355 in Gaithersburg MD, going the speed limit of course, and as we approached an intersection my father noticed that the two cars in the two lanes to his left slowed down very quickly even though the light was green. My father slowed down a bit, and then suddenly a girl- perhaps 18 years old or so, appeared in front of us. Everything went in slow motion at that point. She was carrying a grocery bag and jamming to some music pouring out of her Sony Walkman- the earphone wires clearly visible. What wasn’t visible to her apparently was the big DON’T WALK sign and the traffic bearing down on her at 40MPH.

My father let out a howl and slammed on the brakes. The impact shook the car, and she was propelled skyward in a tumbling, spinning ball, hitting the sidewalk 20 feet away. My mom and I were out of the car before it came to a complete stop and ran towards the girl. My father was paralyzed. He could barely move or speak. He was sure he killed her.

Amazingly the car in the far left lane that barely missed her was a policeman. Across the intersection moving in the opposite direction was an off-duty ambulance. We had police and medical on the scene in about 30 seconds.

As the policeman approached the girl my father emerged from the car. The policeman’s first words were ‘Don’t worry- it wasn’t your fault. I almost hit her too.’ Good words I guess, but that only seemed to matter if she survived. She did. The paramedics mentioned that the girl was so obese that there didn’t seem to be much damage. They said the fat softened the blow to her leg as well as provided a relatively soft landing when she hit the sidewalk.

After recovering from the shock of the impact, she stood up with little more than a bruise on her leg where she was hit and a slight road rash on her forehead from the sidewalk. She wanted to continue her walk home but the medics insisted she go to the hospital for observation. By the way- the bruise on her leg was in the shape of the Ford logo from the front of the Taurus. No kidding.

The policeman took our information, and we returned to our previously scheduled night out of pizza and fun. It was a rather somber dinner.

To this day my father will remark on occasion that he has never got a speeding ticket. He seems to recount this right around the time I get another one. I am forced to remind him that while I do drive a bit fast, I have never, ever, hit anyone and sent them to the hospital. That usually does the trick.

Click here if you would like to subscribe to the DigitalRichDaily
E-mail update. Place 'subscribe' in the subject line.