I had just started that job 3 weeks ago.
I thought it was going to “change my life”.
Everything was still new and fresh and bright and shiny.
This was my first job with my own office!
Now granted, the walls didn’t quite reach the ceiling… but it was still my own office.
And we could pretty much yell over that wall and talk to each other without getting up… but it was STILL my own office.
It was April 11th, 2007, the last morning that spring that I remember it snowing.
The streets were wet and slushy. The sun was just peeking out around 6:30 that morning.
I had on my long, black wool coat with the fur around the hood.
You know… that fur… that never quite looks the same after it gets cleaned- so you end up brushing the thing like it’s your pet or something.
Anyway, I had on the coat, and my purse strapped across my body (because I was riding the CTA), and my work bag on my shoulder (that I could never seem to leave home without), and my lunch bag in my hand.
I still can’t remember what was in the bag, but I remember reeeeeally looking forward to eating it later.
I was crossing the street, in the crosswalk, had the right of way.
But the light changed…..
So I picked up my pace to a light jog, trying not to slide in the slush or get any on my nice coat.
All the other cars waited.
I was about 2 yards away from the curb.
I never saw the truck coming.
Now, in the movies, this scenario ends one of two ways:
A) The truck comes to a screeching halt just close enough to the pedestrian that the pedestrian braces themselves on the hood of the truck. Then either one or both parties yells out some loud obscenity at the other, the truck speeds off, the pedestrian walks away frowning and shaking their head. Or,
B) The truck doesn’t stop in time. The pedestrian gets hit. Onlookers in the crowd call 911. Police take statements from witnesses and give the driver a ticket. The ambulance arrives and off to the hospital goes the pedestrian.
Which one do you think happened?
Allow me to offer you a more dramatic third option…
I remember screaming as the truck made contact with my side.
I remember the weight of my body dropping to the pavement.
I had been thrown up in the air and several feet away from the crosswalk.
Somewhere in that short moment of time, I saw my life…
Just a few past memories, but mainly things that were yet to come; moments I’d experience and enjoy, people I’d meet, lives I’d change— Hmph… I was even a smaller size.
Then I remember the throbbing sensation from the leg I had landed on.
As I came back to the present, I saw my things scattered about in the street… work bag over here… lunch bag over there… glove in the slush.
I rolled over to see the driver still in the truck… and I’m almost certain that he was on his cell phone.
Even in my frazzled state, even through the throbbing pain, and while laying in the wet intersection of a major street in my nice wool coat– the spirit inside of me urged me to pull out my phone and type in his license plate number.
I know, I know— I can’t believe it either!
But when the driver saw me with my phone, HE was inspired to get out of his truck.
Sadly, I had already picked myself up, gathered my belongings and limped over to the curb by the time he walked over to me.
He asked me if I was OK— ironically just as some guy driving a van rode past us yelling out of his window “Lady, you need to go to the hospital!!!” and sped off.
Then the driver proceeded to tell me he was in a hurry, had forgotten to grab his ID, and asked if I was headed downtown and needed a ride.
All I could do was shake my head “No”…..
He asked me for my name and number and gave me his to put his in my phone.
And then he left me.
How’s that for “compassion”.
I stood there on the corner in the cold, rainy snow going over this new “Option C” that had just presented itself.
I didn’t hear any sirens coming my way. I wondered if any onlookers had even called them.
Reality began to set in that I had taken a job working in “the hood”, and they may not even COME.
I contemplated calling them myself, but I was standing alone on the corner in the cold, rainy snow.
And I saw my bus pulling up…..
Wait for the police—– Cross the street and get on the bus—– I weighed my options carefully.
I decided I’d call the police when I got to work, which was a block from where I’d get off the bus.
I hobbled up the stairs, noticing the impatience in the driver’s eyes as the doors closed quickly behind me.
When I got to my stop and the bus pulled off, my co-worker spotted me just as she was about to turn the corner.
She beckoned for me to hop in, then stared blankly with her mouth open, watching me limp over to her car.
I rehashed the details of my adventurous journey to work.
She laughed her head off, thinking I was just over-exaggerating the story— until the police arrived to file my report.
Five minutes later, the officer had the drivers’ home address, handed me the report, and walked out the door.
My leg had since swollen up twice its size. I made a call to my boss and my family, giving them a quick recap of my accident.
Then my no longer laughing but not VERY concerned co-worker drove me to Provident Hospital.
Provident is the equivalent of Cook County Hospital for the south-side.
My medical insurance hadn’t kicked in yet.
I told you… I had just started that job 3 weeks ago.
I thought it was going to change my life.
Well, I had recently started my dance company- but wouldn’t be able to dance again for a few years.
My gorgeous hair started falling out from what the dermatologist said was post-traumatic stress after the accident..
The “after-work nap” was introduced into my daily schedule because I was in so much pain by the time I got home… and didn’t want to keep popping pills.
Even after physical therapy, I still found myself walking a little crooked and deliberately slow down the stairs and off curbs.
And every single time I got ready to cross any street, I had to fight the urge to run like hell to the other side.
My life did INDEED change.
I never saw the truck coming.
The driver denied for almost 2 years ever hitting me- before finally settling out of court right before the time was up.
It was all spent three months later.
The job has long since lost its new and fresh and bright and shiny.
As a matter of fact….. I sit in my office most days fantasizing about the day I’ll hand in my resignation letter- grinning ear to ear.
Thanks to the truck and his driver, I saw enough of my future to know what’s waiting for me…
… my accomplishments, and my future marriage, and our family, and I remember all of those moments VIVIDLY and in GREAT DETAIL…….
But what I’d most like to remember from that day is what I had in the bag for lunch… because I was reeeeeally looking forward to eating it later!
April 11, 2015