I was very un-Seattle with my bright pink umbrella on full display as I was walking to meet a friend for dinner. It was pouring down raining, and I have no shame in my umbrella and am even proud of how much it stands out. A true Seattle-ite toughs out the rain and might throw a hood up if it gets bad, but I stand out of the crowd every time it rains because I couldn’t bear the thought of ruining one of the many jackets in my collection.
I was turning the corner when I heard some dumbass (who I could only assume was a teenager overcompensating for being lame in life) rev his engine and fly around the corner. I usually don’t even look up when I hear that because I know it’s clearly someone starved for attention.
Then I heard it again, right behind the other car and watched as Dumbass Number 2 slammed straight into the side of a Subaru in the left turn lane. The airbag deployed as I swore and started to dial 911 and waited for the road to clear so I could run over and check on everyone.
That’s when Dumbass Number 2 backed up and it was clear was just going to make a run for it, knowing that someone could obviously be seriously injured inside of the Subaru.
“Hell no!” I yelled, and hung up from 911 to write down the license plate in my phone before redialing and wondering why in God’s name no one else was pulling over to help out.
I’ve had a crisis of faith in humanity recently. Maybe it’s as simple as a mid-life crisis. Every now and then I see a glimmer of hope, but slowly I feel it slipping away from me. Needless to say, the culmination of Dumbass Number 2 leaving the scene of a crime where someone clearly could have been injured without giving a shit about anything but his entitled self, plus the fact that I was the only person who had stopped even thought it’s a busy intersection and clearly I’m not the only person who watched the accident go down.
I talked to the guy on the receiving end of my 911 call as I started to wander into the median, hoping he could guide me on what to do when I opened the door and someone was injured. I figured, having no medical background, I’d have to be resourceful and use the only skill I have which would be screaming for someone to help me out.
I was telling the guy from 911 where I was and what was happening while I watched a girl sobbing get out of the passenger seat of the Subaru. I asked if the driver was ok, and she said she was the driver, and just couldn’t get out of her door. I made her get out of the road, as the guy from 911 was telling me to focus.
I gave him my info, but in the mess of everything going on, could not get my phone screen to minimize to give him the plate number. Then I went on to be the worst witness to a crime ever, because while I’m smart enough to get the license plate number, if you asked me to identify a car, I can’t do it. I don’t know anything about them.
I told him it was “that car with those rings that remind me of the Olympics.”
He paused and said, “AN AUDI?!”
I said, “YES! That’s what they are called.” I knew I was losing my reliability quickly, so he told me to pull up the plates, call right back, and give them my name and they’d add it to “my file.”
I wondered if they had a file based on previous calls. As I’ve called 911 more than the average person in my life, I figured they probably just sighed and rolled their eyes when my name now popped up on their caller ID.
I’m quick to call when I see accidents. Having been in an accident once on an icy Indiana morning and sliding off of the road at a pretty high speed and into a ditch, one of the nicest things that someone has ever done for me was a stranger stopping in the impossible weather and running down to make sure I was ok because he could barely see me from the road.
I’m not a crier but was an inconsolable mess, and he sat there with me in the freezing cold until he was convinced I was fine and had calmed down. So I suppose sometimes people are inherently good. Every since that day, I’ve felt like it’s my obligation to pay if forward. And weirdly enough I’ve seen my fair share of accidents that I’ve had to call in.
I reported the information, texted my friend I was going to be late, and ushered the driver, who was standing in the rain, under the awning to make her phone calls and told her I got the guy’s plates so hopefully they would find him. I don’t want to get joy out of people going to jail, but I feel like this guy deserved it and took solace in knowing that they could track him down.
Suddenly three people showed up under the awning with us. One guy had gone to go park his car and calmly helped the crying driver to get her insurance card out of her car and got her flashers on for her. The other two were a couple who were in the car behind the Audi and followed him when he fled the scene and gave the cops directions to where he ducked into an alley and shut his lights off.
Finally the police showed up, I gave my statement and my info. He asked for my birthday and watched as he wrote down 1977. I looked at him and said, “Do I look like I’m pushing 40 to you? Give me a little credit!” Everyone laughed as he looked at me and corrected the year.
The girl who was in the accident then said, “April 24th? That’s my birthday too!”
The cop looked up and said, “Oh my God, me too!”
She said, “Really?”
“No,” he said, “but I was born in April.” We all stood there laughing, which felt good after such a downer of an event.
I was told that I could go, made sure the driver was ok until her dad got there, and she thanked me again. I told her, “We April 24th’s have to look out for each other.”
I opened up my pink umbrella and walked to the restaurant, thinking that maybe two guys were being assholes in their cars, but ultimately, there were more of us trying to help out in the end. Maybe that was the silver lining.