The Ride Home

There were numerous things to talk about today. There was a huge fire in Lakeview that burned down a Dominick’s grocery store. There was a ton of sunshine and pleasantly warm temperatures. There’s the fact that I am still suffering from some sort of cold or allergies or something that is making everything miserable. And there was the long six-hour rehearsal that I went to for CGMC, which officially kicks off “Hell Week” for our show “World Tour.”

That’s all well and good, but what happened after all of that, during the ride home, trumped all of it.

Exhausted after a six-hour day in the sweltering basement hall of the church at which we rehearse, I made my way home. Usually I join some of the boys at North End for a drink, but I was beat, and since I was still not feeling 100% great, I figured it’d be better for me to just relax.

Driving north on Broadway Avenue is nothing exciting. There isn’t a whole lot to see. It’s just the ride home. Nothing special.

Traffic was moving along at a perfectly fine clip, and in just a few minutes, I would be safe at home.

As I approached Irving Park Road, about ten blocks from the church, I suddenly saw a man dash out from a taco stand at the right side of the street. He seemed to be running away from something, or to something… I couldn’t really tell. But instead of stopping at the street and waiting for traffic, he continued, full speed, directly into the street.

And that’s when it happened.

The car in front of me barely had time to stop. In fact, I am almost sure it didn’t. The man dashed past the parked cars and directly in front of the car in front of me. Both were going at their full speed, and the reaction was instantaneous. The man was clipped at the arm by the car’s driver side mirror. He flipped over two, maybe three times, and landed at the side of the road, crumpled by the fire hydrant. The mirror shattered and sprayed all over the street.

Had I been looking down, or off to the side, I would have missed it, but for some reason my eyes watched every waking second of this event. Dumbstruck, I of course shouted “Oh My God!” pulled over and immediately called 911.

After giving the fire department all of the information, I turned my car around and parked it. The car that hit the man had pulled over by the intersection. I could see the hood was crumpled and the mirror was gone. The windshield was smashed. The driver and a girl came out of the car. The girl was crying hysterically. She was on the phone, I assume trying to call 911. I told her I had already called. She kept crying and didn’t hang up.

I walked over to the man on the ground. He was surrounded by his friends and other witnesses. His arm was definitely broken. I was suprised it was even attached to his body. There was blood pooling at the curb. I couldn’t look for long. It was gruesome.

The police were the first to arrive, then the fire department and the paramedics. I gave my statement to the police as they gingerly tended to the man at the curb.

Everyone gave pretty much the same account of the event. The man darted out, the driver didn’t see him, and they hit. I couldn’t tell if the driver was going too fast, but in hindsight I really believe he was going at about the rate of speed as the rest of the traffic.

And then I said to the officer, “If I had been in the driver’s position, I wouldn’t have seen him either. It just happened so fast.”

And then it hit me. It could have been me. I could have hit this man. If the timing were just a second off, or if there was nobody in front of me and I was driving just a little bit faster, it could have been me.

But thank God it wasn’t.

The man was responsive, and alert. He’s going to be OK, but he’s going to be in a LOT of pain. It could have been worse– MUCH worse. I have never seen anything like this, and I hope to heaven I never will again.

As the ambulance took off, the crowd began to disperse. I walked back to my car and took one last look at the car that hit the man.

It could have been me.

But thank God it wasn’t.

And then I finished the ride home.