I had an obligation recently, some place I needed to be at a certain time. I arrived at my destination and was waiting at the intersection for the green arrow so I could park and go in.
To my right I saw a friend who was also going to the same place and I opened my passenger window and asked if we were supposed to park in another lot. He was waiting for the light on his end to turn so he could cross the street and he said that I needed to go into the lot to my right.
A simple U-Turn, my signature driving move, was in order. But, for some reason, perhaps because the street at this location is not busy and I wanted to be on time, I made the choice to cross two lanes of street. My friend, realizing what I was about to do shouted, “Hold on!” But, I was already in motion and as I crossed the lanes I saw red in my peripheral vision.
I didn’t see the red truck but from what my shaking friend said to me after was that it was big, it was moving fast, and it narrowly missed hitting my little Scion. For the rest of the day I replayed my close call and realized how lucky I was in that moment and how my impulsive move could have been my last.
I apologized to my friend; he would have had to live with the image for the rest of his life. I scolded myself over and over, while at the same time wondering why I hadn’t been killed. When another friend heard about the incident she said, “You had an angel on your shoulder.” I’m sure I will get all sorts of responses like that: “It wasn’t your time” or “God was watching over you,” nice sentiments but for me it all came down to luck. I had a lapse in judgment and because of that I almost paid with my life. What I wanted to take away from the experience, because I was still alive to learn something, was that I need to be more careful.
I needed to find a way to remind myself to disregard the things that can distract me, to think before I act, to remember that I have a long time to yet to live and to make a conscious effort to do so. But, how? There are so many things to distract us while driving, not to mention our need to drive offensively due to other drivers’ distraction.
So, I placed something in my car as a constant reminder. My daughter Erin gave me a pretty crystal necklace that I long admired. I added a little charm to it, one with an inscription in both Chinese and English that reads Happiness. This necklace now hangs permanently from my rearview mirror.
As it sways with the motion of the car it prompts me to make a mental note to:
· Check my surroundings
· Stop completely at a stop sign
· Use my blinker
· Look before I put my foot on the accelerator
and most importantly to remember that I have people that love me and want me to be safe.
As we move through this life it is so easy for us to forget the basic rules we learned when we were younger. Perhaps refresher courses are necessary or maybe another read of Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.
I am so grateful that my most recent episode gave me the chance to learn a lesson and I wish for all of you to be safe from harm.