Thursday, October 14, 2010

When Writers Are Startled by Traffic

Last night, as I was walking to the local Red Box, I was surprised by a taxi. It was behind me.

I had taken two steps into the crosswalk when alarm bells went off in my head. A car engine. Behind me and to my left. Getting louder. I simultaneously jumped back and looked at a taxi as it careened past me, straight through the intersection.

The taxi had zoomed down a hill behind me. The driver's ability to see me probably wasn't helped by the fact that I was wearing my Grey-green Cloak (which Mark insists is going to get me killed some dark night) and that the crosswalk sight-lines are blocked by an electrical box. (And I always assume Eugene drivers are trying to kill pedestrians, anyway.)

The crossing light was still green, so I crossed, clutching a Scooby-Doo DVD to my chest. And thinking, "What if the taxi had turned right and I had been killed?" The very fact that I was returning the video had been one of those life bifurcations; it's possible that Mark could have been crossing the street at that time instead of me.

What if my ghost was given a chance to go back five minutes -- would I try to change the choice? (Yes, I'd just seen Prince of Persia: Sands of Time.)

What if I really had been hit and didn't realize it? Maybe I was some sort of Grey-green Cloaked Phantom, eternally trying to return a Scooby-Doo DVD to a Red Box two blocks down the street? Would I always appear before a corner accident to presage another traffic death? Or would I haunt the corner to keep pedestrians from it?

I safely spent the rest of the journey returning the DVD to the Red Box and myself to my home, imagining ninja moves I would have to make to jump over careening taxis next time.

(Uh, no; I still plan to wear the Grey-green Cloak... why do you ask?)
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