The other day I was riding my bike and I was hit by a car.
Not badly…but enough that it got my attention.
I was holiday shopping and had bags in my bike’s basket. I was crossing the street at a crosswalk at Laurel Canyon Blvd., as the orange walk-hand was blinking and counting down.
4. 3. 2. 1.
The light turned green and I guess the guy in the car didn’t see me. He started to go and hit my front wheel, sort of wrenching it out of hands. Then he stopped… looked at me and started to yell at me. Cursing at me. I didn’t really hear him, or hear exactly what he was saying, I think because I was so shocked. I watched his angry grimacing mouth, lips flapping away, his squinty eyes and his middle finger thrusting at me. It was like a silent movie…
“Hey! Come on!” – a young teenage girl on the sidewalk in a uniform waved to me… “Cross the street”.
The angry car guy started honking at me and I sort of shuffled the five feet to the curb.
The young girl touched my arm. “Are you OK?”
“I think so”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. Yes. I’m fine. Thank you for stopping.”
She left and I stood there sort of shaking.
A homeless man approached me. “I saw that. That was bad. Are you OK?”
“Yes. I think so… I feel like I’m going to cry, though.” My eyes teared up.
“That’s OK. Go ahead.”
We stood there looking at each other. He smiled. “I think you’re OK.”
“Thank you for stopping. It means a lot.”
I realized how kind he had been. “Do you need anything?”
“Oh. No. I’m O.K., too.”
We shook hands and he walked off.
How many times have I been them?
I got back on my bike. I got about three blocks and I began to feel that weird throat lump… I stopped under a pine tree and I really started to cry. Not because I was hurt, not because I was frightened but because I was so touched by that girl and by that man. There was something so beautiful and gentle in their caring and their love. So sweet. How many times have I been them? Trying to help. Their compassion over-shadowed the thrusting middle finger. I mean, I had almost completely forgotten about the angry man until I realized that he was part of it, too. I felt bad for him… He must have been so scared that I was hurt or so anxious to get somewhere that he was in rush or so angry because so much had gone wrong today I was the last thing he needed. How many times have I been him?
I wiped my eyes and rode home seeing the compassionate circle in the beautiful winter afternoon.
Alison Martin -- wife, mom, Emmy-award winning actress, writer, chocoholic. Bronx Italian, daughter of Pultizer Prize winning reporters, who also identifies as L.A. Irish. Shout outs: Dan, Emilia, Brady, pooches - LuLu & Ted, friends, Mother Earth, serendipity, peace, VIPHS, Boldfaced Secret, living life like your socks feel real good.
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