Friday, September 21, 2012
That time I turned myself in.
I have a lot of really crazy stories. Okay, so not the I-blacked-out-and-woke-up-married-in-Vegas type of stories, but some decent ones all the same. I was telling this one at work the other day and it occurred to me that I am always the co-worker with the wild stories. I'd like to share one at The Moth one day, but I have trouble gathering a moral from them, and I feel like I'd need a really strong closing, which I don't have.
When I was around 23, I was driving to work one day and had stopped uneventfully at a red light. It was a part of town that was highly commercial--this intersection was surrounded by a Denny's, Friendly's, a gas station, a shopping mall on one side and a Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, Best Buy and Kohl's on the other. Despite this being a busy area, there's one thing you have to realize--it is VERY rare to see a pedestrian of any kind. The road is four lanes across with an additional turning lane in places, so four lanes across sometimes. The speed limit is around 35 or 40, and there are no crosswalks. I drive through there often and never see anyone walking.
Okay, so as I said, I was stopped at the light. I was in the left hand lane and there was a big construction vehicle in the right lane next to me, something sort of like this -------------->
I was pulled up to the white line, and he was a little ways ahead of it. He was NOT doing construction, he was simply traveling down the road next to me.
Anyway, so the red light I'm waiting at turns to green. So, like any normal person, I begin to move forward at a fairly average I've-just-left-a-complete-stop-and-I-am-gradually-accelerating speed. And the next thing I know, an older man comes RUNNING around the construction vehicle, just pops right out from around the front of it and flies at full speed at my car. As I'm accelerating. And before I even have a second to put on my brakes, this man has run INTO the hood of my car (or did we run into each other?) has ROLLED UP ONTO MY HOOD like an action movie star, and is on the other side.
At this point, I've put on my brakes and I'm stopped dead a foot or two into the intersection with my eyes bugging out of my head and both hands covering my gaping mouth.
The man is on his feet, he looks at my startled expression, makes some weird frantic hand gesture that I can't make out in my moment of shock, and he TAKES OFF RUNNING across the rest of the intersection!
After maybe 30 seconds, I press on the gas and continue on to work, still stunned, repeating to myself over and over again, "Did that really just happen?"
* * *
When I get to work, I'm still baffled. I walk up to my supervisor and say, "I just hit a pedestrian." In that moment I can see everyone's faces fall, as if they can see me being carted off to jail any second. I clarify, "Well, he sort of hit me, actually..."
I recount the story and they all laugh. "This is the sort of thing that can only happen to Alison," they say, nodding in agreement with one another. But I'm still concerned. What if the man was hurt? What if someone wrote down my plate number and reports me for a hit and run? Should I call the police and turn myself in?
"Alison, HE hit, and HE ran." People assure me. But I can see that one of my co-workers in the corner is giving me what I can only describe as a "disapproving mom" type of look. She's not smiling.
"You should turn yourself in," she tells me. "just in case."
I figure it's better to be safe than sorry, and with images of spending the night in prison flashing in my mind, I call the police.
"Hi," I say nervously to the officer on the other end of the line. "I don't know if anyone reported this...but, I was in a car accident in town about an hour ago."
I recount the story to him.
"Uh..." he shuffles some papers around. "no, no one's reported a hit and run."
There's a minute of silence. I'm pretty sure no one ever told him exactly what to do in this situation.
"So...do you want to take my name and number, in case someone calls?" I ask.
"I guess." He says, sounding reluctant.
All night I watched the door at work in fear I was going to have to go down to the station and explain myself yet again. But the police never showed up, and never called.
* * *
To this day, I don't know what was so important that made that man have to run across 4-6 lanes of traffic as soon as the light turned green. I like to tell myself that he had just robbed Best Buy and was trying to make a getaway. Maybe I did my part to help the neighborhood law enforcement that day, but I didn't think to call and ask if there had been any burglaries.