last night i got to see ani difranco in a small club - finally, after all these years (more on that another time)! we followed the great show with a drink at the double wide grill and i got a very late start on my 40-minute drive home, 5 hours before my alarm would be going off this morning.
circumstances led me to be in the wrong place at just after the wrong time... and i can't stop thinking about how i ended up there.
the highway exit to my home is taken at very high speeds by most drivers, myself included, even though there are houses and businesses nearly kissing the blind corner of the "ramp" (read residential street, complete with sidewalk). i often think to myself, "self, be glad that the people that live here know to never step foot out of their front doors for fear of death, because we all drive like megajerks." as i was approaching this exit at 1:15 this morning, i could see a flashing yellow light just around the corner and slowed down, thinking it was most likely just some more construction. never did i expect to see a taxi in the middle of the road with it's four doors flung open (blocking the exit) and flashers on. well, really - even that wouldn't have been so odd for the 'quip. what i really didn't expect to see was the front end of a motorcycle peeking around the front of the taxi, lying on the road.
still not fully comprehending the situation, i slowly continued past the exit to later turn around and come back the other way to get home. that's when i saw the taxi driver and passenger standing, looking at the man lying face down on the road next to the bike... i panicked - i didn't see anything happen, the driver was on his cell phone, and what could i possibly do to help?? i continued driving past, feeling guilty that i didn't stop and replaying the scene in my head uncontrollably.
and what i really couldn't stop thinking about was the fact that i shouldn't have even been there; i shouldn't have seen that. i stayed out far later then i had intended, then forgot how to get myself to the other highway i had wanted to take home, got stuck behind a large "construction vehicle," and in my impatience, crossed the river to go home the longer yet faster-since-i-could-pass-any-slow-moving-vehicles way only to be blockaded for a mile or two by two slow-moving large vehicles (come on, truckers - i really thought you had more courtesy than that!). to think: if i had just gone home right away, if i had been more awake/less silly brainless and had been able to go home the right way, if i hadn't been impatient... i never would have been here. then to think: if i hadn't been detained a second time... it might have been me behind the wheel of the car that mutilated that motorcycle and its driver...
all of these thoughts as i'm driving slowly - confusedly - home, with police cars and fire trucks quietly speeding to the scene of the accident. i almost wished they were using their sirens; it was all too quiet and surreal. as i approached my final turn, the street light above me went out. this is nothing new to me; i've taken such things in my past as small omens and moved on. but last night... i thought, "ok, i'm paying attention!"
hopefully i can make a real change to my historically cranky, impatient, slightly aggressive driving habits... leave home a couple of minutes early so i'm not in a rush, acknowledge and then ignore the impulsive need to drive faster than everyone around me, take a deep breath and let go when stupid drivers do stupid things, and take that exit at a life-saving speed from now on.
i only swore once today on my 25-mile commute to work - that's major progress already!