Death Strikes Out
In what is getting to be a rather typical Thanksgiving scenario for me, the wings of the Angel of Death were heard briefly fluttering above my head, only to fly away. The day after I had written about my near death experience with a terrorist in Chicago (well ,he might have been a terrorist) I was sitting at home enjoying my Thanksgiving Day. As usual, my wife was working feverishly, to get together food that we were bringing to a Thanksgiving meal at the home of the parents of my daughter’s boyfriend. She called me away from my annual viewing of the Macy’s Parade and said that I had to go to our local Randall’s in order to pick up some dishwasher detergent which she was out of.
In my whole life I have never purchased dishwasher detergent. I don’t like to buy non food items at the grocery store. I never know what aisle they are on and all of the boxes blend together into kind of a multicolored blur, making it impossible for me to find what I am looking for. The truth of the matter is, I am a bad grocery shopper. As my wife will tell you, no one can spend more money and still bring home less of what they were sent to buy than me. I eschew lists and generally shop as I would for a Fraternity party. So Rayda knew that there was a risk sending me to buy an item which I could not identify. She told me that they were little pellet things and that under no circumstances should I get the gelled kind,
I drove up to the store and saw a number of cars parked by people all of whom had forgotten something or other for the Thanksgiving meal. For some reason, I decided to park in a different spot than I usually do, to the far right of the store, a few doors down, but otherwise, right up at the curb, a good spot. As I walked toward the front door I noticed that another car had pulled out leaving an even better spot, almost in front of the doors. Someone in an SUV was pulling into that spot and so I kept walking.
I was about a foot away from the aforementioned parking place when the aforementioned SUV came to a stop in the aforementioned parking spot. I looked to my left and saw a young girl complete her parking job. At least I thought that she had. For some reason she smashed into the curb. I was not too shocked, having been around teen drivers in our neighborhood. But then a funny thing happened, suddenly everything in my line of vision went into vivid color and super slow motion. The SUV was temporarily stopped by the curb, but then proceeded to continue its path with its front tires now resting on the top of the curb. At this point I glanced at the girl who was driving and saw a look of non comprehension on her face. From there, rather than backing up, the SUV lurched forward directly into a pillar, maybe six inches away from me. The was set in some limestone bricks which shattered on impact, throwing brick pieces in every possible direction, some small pieces hitting me. The pillar itself, about a six foot tall missile , shot like a javelin into the wall of the grocery store and bounced back toward yours truly, but stopped short with a loud clank on the sidewalk . The car kept going moving toward the store’s wall when at the last minute the driver recalled that she had brakes. She stopped the car and backed up, into her space, threw her hands over her eyes and began to sob.
People ran from the grocery store, presumably to count bodies. During all of this time I had stood transfixed looking at the SUV. No fear or even shock had entered my thoughts, I just kind of stared for awhile and then aroused myself enough to see if the girl was hurt. She was not. The only casualty was the pillar, and even it looked like it could be repaired. Damage to the car was superficial. As I continued to stare, my mind still not functioning, a man about my age came over to me and said that he had seen the whole thing. “This is your lucky day” he said to me seriously, “you are lucky to be alive. “ Until then , that thought had not occurred to me. I brushed off his suggestion and went into the store, my mind starting to replay the accident, thinking of ways it might have killed me. I had not even reached the produce section when I thought of three distinct ways it could have killed me, and half a dozen that would have left me anywhere from unfit to eat Thanksgiving dinner to living for years with locked in syndrome.
For several minutes, I aimlessly walked around the store, for some reason picking up a package of organic cashews which I ended up purchasing for $12.00. I finally remembered what I was there for and purchased the dishwater detergent, the kind with the gel, the only kind I had been told not to buy.
I made it home and after telling my near death experience, I was spared the usual balling out I could have expected regarding the detergent. Later that day, upon looking at the cash register receipt, I was yelled at for spending $12 on organic cashews. The fact that I hardly remembered even buying them did not help my defense.
The rest of the day was normal, no, wonderful. We experienced a very gracious thanksgiving meal with our friends, played a round of croquet (I think) and then I was given a ticket to a football game which several of us attended, the home team winning by a large score. By about 10:30 it was like the incident in the parking lot had never taken place, and really, for all practical purposes, it had not. The only evidence I had of the accident at all would have been a cut from the pieces of brick that hit me, and none of them even broke the skin. Less than half a dozen people had seen the accident, and they had scattered after I had been assured by the one man that I was now living on borrowed time.
So once more I give thanks. It is a special thanks this year that no one, and least of all me, was rammed into the side of a grocery store by an SUV or penetrated by the rebound of a wooden pillar. But I may skip Thanksgiving next year, no sense tempting fate.