When you’re walking on a city street, the clatter of metal on metal is never good. Yesterday, that sound brought me right to the present, away from my thoughts about a difficult case at work, my pleasant conversation with my ex-fiance, and the gym, where I was headed right after work. I was walking between my office building and the parking garage. A man riding a classic green Schwinn bike was crossing the street in the crosswalk. Another man in a black SUV didn’t see the man on the bike, and, while turning, knocked him to the ground in the middle of the crosswalk.
I saw the whole thing. The man on the bike was just lying there. Thoughts competed in my head. I’ve got to get to the gym if I’m going to get home at a decent time. I reached for my phone, then saw that another man walking the same direction I did was already on it, and walking quickly in the direction of the man on the bike. He was still on the ground, and the man who had hit him had jumped out of his car and was squatting down next to him. I saw the whole thing. I don’t know what I could do, but I had to see if I could help. By the time I got there, the man on the bike was standing up and someone else had handed him a wad of tissue or some kind of cloth, which he was holding to his head. I walked with the group over to the sidewalk, to get him out of the middle of the street, and someone else picked up his bike and brought it along.
The man who hit him got back in his car, and as he turned to park, I said his license plate numbers out loud so I could remember them if he drove off. I don’t know how, but the man on the bike had the presence of mind to get his phone out and take a picture of the license plate, while holding the cloth to his head. I told him I saw the whole thing, and he asked me to call myself, so he would have my number in the event I was needed as a witness.
The ambulance came quickly, but he seemed to be all right. He would have a big goose eye above his eye along with a scrape, and he had some other scratches on his face. His bike was bent up, which he seemed to be more upset about than his injuries, because he had obviously had the bike for a long time.
The man driving the SUV was almost as shaken up as the man he hit. He stuck around and didn’t run off. He even offered to put the other guy’s bike in his SUV and take him wherever he needed to go.
I have seen a real car accident only a couple of times. But it’s sobering, how much we take for granted every time we get behind the wheel or walk down the street, how fragile our bodies are and how easily they could be hurt.
I drove to the gym a little more carefully and not in as much of a hurry as I usually do, watching for bicyclists and pedestrians.