AUTHOR: Carolyn Savage | POSTED: 07/29/14 7:30 PM
CATEGORIES: 1015 The River, Blog, Compassion, From The Files of You Can't Make This Sh*t Up
I was cruising along minding my own business. McFlurry in one hand and the treasure of five yards of bargain-priced, perfect nursery-window-treatment fabric sitting comfortably in my passenger seat. It was even peaceful as the kids were safely at home with my trusted sitter. Life was good. Until it wasn’t.
I was on my way back home and on a deadline. My sitter had to leave at one and at 12:50 pm I was cutting it a little close, but that was okay. I had accomplished everything on my errand list and was on the home stretch. That’s when I noticed the red minivan in front of me. It was drifting left of center as we made our way westbound through a busy intersection. I remember thinking, “Correct. Correct! CORRECT!” And he did. But only after it was too late.I was right on his tail as he side swiped three cars sitting in the east bound left-hand turn lane. Rear view mirrors, glass and metal flew everywhere and because we were moving at a pretty good clip, there wasn’t time to stop. Next thing I knew we were hundreds of yards past the scene of the accident. And still driving.
LIKE NOTHING EVER HAPPENED.
I immediately noticed he’d seriously mangled his own car. Surely he was looking for a place to pull over. As he swerved into the right hand lane and turned into the Lowes parking lot I followed. He was probably pretty shaken. Maybe he was a young kid. If my son had caused an accident like that I’d want some compassionate witness to help him. I’d stop, make sure he was okay and accompany him back to the scene of the accident. After all, he had to be returning to the accident. He’d caused it. Right?
Next thing I knew he turned west in the parking lot.
That was the wrong way.
I could see he was on the phone. Maybe he was so upset he called a trusted loved one–probably his mom– to see what he should do. Surely the other person on the phone was saying, “Go back. You have to go back.”
But he continued to weave his way westward through the parking lots. That’s when it occurred to me. Could he be running? Could he be avoiding being spotted by not getting back on the street?
So, I put down my McFlurry and followed him. Every turn he made, I made. Every zig zag and evasive maneuever he executed, I executed better—All the while laying on my horn, pointing at him and screaming “Go back!“. Finally, when we hit the end of the big box parking lots, he had to get back out on the street where the accident had occurred. As he approached the exit of the parking lot he was stopped by oncoming traffic.
He had a choice.
He could take responsibility, turn left and go back. Or he could turn right and run away.
I kept thinking he has to know that the lunatic lady behind him in the Honda Odyssey had his plate number and description. Of course he knew I’d give the police his information and then he’d be in bigger trouble.
That’s when I stopped blowing my horn. You see, I think I’ve seen too many episodes of “Breaking Bad” and began to wonder who this person was. What if he was a South American drug cartel member? What if he’d just robbed a bank? What if he had an axe? (If you’ve seen Breaking Bad you’d understand my rather irrational train of thought.)
Irrational or not, that’s when stopped blaring my horn, sank down in my seat and waited for his decision. When the light turned green he hesitated. It was almost as if I could see the thoughts running through his head. I held my breath.
And he turned right and proceeded to continue west…as if nothing ever happened.
I make choices every day. Choices that seem mundane and most of the time they are…until they aren’t. I had no idea what this person in the red minivan was doing that caused him to drift left of center and hit those cars. Perhaps he was adjusting the radio; answering a phone call; or spilling his coffee.
I do stuff like that every day. He could be me. Or, I could be him.
Ever since the mistake that led to my pregnancy with Logan I think about the choices we make throughout the day–especially the ones that aren’t the wisest but seem harmless at the time. During my pregnancy I’d often wonder what had so distracted the person that pulled the wrong embryos from cryopreservation that day. Was he upset because of a personal problem? Was she not feeling well and regretting her decision to come in instead of taking a sick day? Or was there just something more pressing than following the tedious protocols that were in place to protect my family?
What I’ve always known in my heart was the person who made the mistake that led to my pregnancy with Logan didn’t do it on purpose. There was no malice. It was an accident.
Accidents can be forgiven. But only after responsibility is taken.
When I was sitting at that light watching the driver who’d caused the car accident I was silently rooting for him. Do the right thing. Go back and face the music. It was an accident. You didn’t mean to. It’s okay. You’ll be forgiven.
As far as I could figure, it was the only thing he could do to fix it.
But he didn’t.
About fifteen minutes after returning to the accident scene I learned from the police that the driver of the red minivan had been arrested. They’d caught him only a few miles west of where I’d told them I’d last seen him.
The officer was ecstatic that I’d gotten his identifying information. The owners of the three mangled cars were thankful and wondering if the suspect had insurance. I gave my formal statement and was informed I may end up in court.
I left feeling good but also kind of feeling bad.
I was glad to help. I actually felt a little bad-ass. But, then I thought of the guy who had made a mistake, caused an accident and then made a bad choice. I’d had a front row seat to his demise. Granted, I’m not sure what the circumstances were that led him to flee. All I knew was his day had just gotten really bad and he had nobody to blame but himself.
If only he’d taken responsibility.
If you are looking for the recipe for blueberry-zuchinni bread I talked about Wednesday morning on 101.5 The River with Rick and Marybeth click here.