I must have heard the tires screeching, but that memory is vague and in a place I can’t quite get to. I was busy looking at the movie trucks lined up along the residential street and the faux real estate office sign planted in a yard for the set. Crawling up to the stop sign I heard her horn, then looked to my right and saw her wobbling next to her car, bent over. The other cars heading down North Avenue kept coming like water from a hydrant – not slowing, not stopping.
I pulled over on the busy street, partially blocking traffic as a passive-aggressive FU to those who kept going, and went to see if I could help. I was at lunch and had designs on eating the noms I’d just picked up in a nearby park…my stomach – and whatever was waiting back at the office – were far less important than this.
There were a few men arriving at the scene at the same time – 3 workmen who must have been going the other direction quickly raised the hood and disconnected the battery on her Mustang to stop the horn that was still blowing.
She was standing when I saw her, but sitting by the time I reached her. She had blood on the bridge of her nose from where the impact of the airbag pushed her glasses to a place they didn’t have any business being. Blood on her cheeks from where she’d raised her hand to feel her face and wipe her tears came from her thumb where the nail had been broken half way down.
I rubbed her back softly and asked if she hurt anywhere. She looked at me with glassy, confused, terrified eyes and shook her head. I told her that was good and asked if I could call someone for her – boyfriend or parents. She nodded. Asked where her phone was and she was able to speak. “In my purse, in the car…on the passenger side”. I stood up and one of the workers stepped away from where he’d been watching us, he made a move for the car then said “it’s probably better if you get it, ma’am.” Walking around to the passenger side of the car I could see I wasn’t getting in that way, the tire had buckled under the car and somehow crunched the door up, as well.
Moving back to the drivers side, kneeling on the drivers seat and lifting the now deflated airbag so I could access the floorboard where the purse lay I was struck by the smoke and the smell. With purse in hand I climbed back out and told the men on hand the car was smoking – which scared me a little because in the movies that always means a gas leak that will invariably turn into a monster explosion catapulting the vehicle into the air and people nearby onto their bellies.
He told me it was normal and not to worry, so I didn’t.
Sitting down with her again she tried to pull her phone out of a snapped pouch on the side of her purple purse but her hands were shaking so badly she couldn’t find the dexterity. We managed it together and brought up “Mom” in the directory.
“What’s your mom’s name?” “Lisa.” “What’s your name?” “Marie.” OK.
I was all too aware of what a terrifying call I was making – that her child had been hurt or that her child was the victim of theft and this was a deranged call to blackmail.
I can’t imagine how I must have sounded to her mother. “Hi Lisa? I’m with your daughter Marie. She’s OK, but she’s been in an accident. Marie, do you want to tell your mom you’re OK?”
“Mommy?” *sobs* “I’m OK.”
“She has some abrasions and the vehicle isn’t drivable. We’re on North Avenue near Freedom Parkway. Where are you?”
“If you want to get in your car and head this way, that would be good. The vehicle isn’t drivable. I’m not sure where the EMT’s will take her – probably Grady because it’s the closest.”
“Can’t we go to her doctor?”
“I’m afraid that in the city of Atlanta the EMT’s take you to the closest hospital, you don’t get a choice about your destination.”
“If you can come now, you might be able to pick her up.” (Marie has already indicated she doesn’t want to go to the hospital and that she doesn’t know what happened.)
“If she’s moved into an ambulance, she’ll call you back and let you know where she’s going…right, Marie?” “Mommy I’ll call you back later when I know where I’m going.”
Her mother asks if I’m a police officer. “No ma’am, I just pulled over.”
I talked to the responding officer after that, who didn’t need me because I hadn’t seen it happen. I talked to Marie a little more and made a joke about the big, strong, handsome men all coming to her aid. She laughed, which I took as a good sign. There were 3 police cars, a fire truck and an ambulance on scene when I left her.
I’m sure she’s OK, but I hated to drive away and I still worry about her, and I wonder why it is that these situations land in front of me – the cyclist on Highland (that I can’t find the old blog post about) and the other cyclist in midtown. I wonder how many of you see things and don’t stop, and how many of you see things and do.