Saturday, February 07, 2009

No title comes to mind for this post.

Earlier today I was out at "the stores," as we used to call them. Preparing to leave, I started the car, reversed out of my parking spot, put it into Drive and then stopped. Farther down the aisle was an elderly man. From his body language I could see he was waiting for his wife to get out of their car to walk with him. He was standing behind the next car; his feet were pointed straight forward so I figured that once the Mrs. caught up with him, they'd walk directly across my path, so it was better to hang back.

But right about then, the driver of the car he was standing behind began moving backward. Because of the distance, I couldn't tell exactly what I was seeing. It looked like the man was directly behind the car backing up, but I was thinking, no, he must be off to the side a bit.

But no, he was indeed just behind the car, and she backed up and struck him on the hip! He staggered, but didn't fall. Then she stopped, opened her door, and I saw her speaking to him, and smiling. Then they walked on, she closed her door and got ready to back out again. I drove behind her and stopped next to the couple. I rolled down my window and said "I cannot believe she did that!" They just shook their heads; the wife said "Yeah, she did...wasn't looking when she backed up." As I left the parking lot, the woman who had hit him was behind me. Her car was a new red one. I was able to breathe more easily when she turned in a different direction.

The thought of someone getting hit by a car just terrifies me. My classmate Charlene was hit when I was about 9 and I never forgot it. She recovered, but a person is so helpless when faced with a large, moving metal object. That poor man. His life seemed to flash before my eyes more than it did his -- 70-some years, retired, kids grown, just out to pick up a few things on an ordinary Saturday and it could have ended right then and there.

Carl sometimes laughs at my caution behind the wheel. I don't like to drive or park too close to anyone; I hate making left turns when there's no arrow; I swivel my head like Linda Blair in The Exorcist when I'm backing out of a parking spot and can't see. There are times I'll back up an inch and stop suddenly if I even hear voices near the car or see some unidentified motion out the corner of my eye. I'm astonished at how many parents allow their small kids to just bound ahead of them in a parking lot, when people are backing up all over the place. In the case of this man, he was simply standing there. He didn't dart out behind this woman -- she never bothered to check her mirror! At least she stopped. I've heard stories of people who didn't even stop after they'd hit something. Another factor here was how close she had parked to the store, and the crosswalk. She impressed me as the sort of person who will hover like a vulture to grab the closest parking spot she can. If you're that close to the store, you should be doubly cautious, since there's going to be a greater ratio of pedestrians.

I hope she's more careful after today.

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