He Was Late to Work


He could’ve died
It would’ve been his fault,
but still, he could’ve died
and this thought keeps coming back to me.

I saw him from 100 feet away
A cyclist meandering down a shopping center road
wedged between a parking lot
and Panera Bread
I slowed down to make my turn
to meet my mom for lunch
just seconds away from parking
to take my kids to lunch
and just as I was passing him
he made a left turn into my car

I heard a sickening thud
punched the hazard lights on
put my car in park
both kids in their car seats
I jumped out
ran over to him,
Are you okay?

He was getting up.
He was picking his bike up.
He was taking his glove off
to look at his hand.
Yes, I’m fine. It was my fault.
He looked shaken.
I wasn’t paying attention.
I’m calling the police, I said.
I couldn’t believe he was just standing there.
You might need an ambulance.

You don’t need to,
he said
I’m fine.
But I’ll give you my name
if you need it.

I took his information
first and last name
phone number
Can I take a picture of your license?

He shook his head.
I don’t have a license.
I’m late to work
I have to go.
Call me if you need to.

And he rode off,
this young man
who almost died.
He rode off down a busy street
because he was late to work.

10 responses »

  1. We hurry and miss life. We hurry and sometimes our hurrying gives us all the time in the world.
    I’m glad to hear this late motorcyclist is not the late motorcyclist.

      • Oh, it’s surprising to hear he was riding a bicycle and did that. I had something like that happen once. A girl on her bicycle ran into the back of my car. It turned out that she had been drinking and was not driving her bike very well. The ambulance and police came and took her to the hospital. She was not injured too badly. She was fortunate.
        In addition to hurrying through life, too many people avoid life with drinking, drugs, movies, games, or other distractions. Life seems so precious and we’re so fortunate to be alive it seems to me to be something to treasure and savor.

      • I couldn’t agree more, my friend. I have been completely intoxicant free for over a year and a half and have come to see how my past behaviors deprived me of the full experience of living. What a gift it is to see with all of my faculties intact, to drink in the world with this clear mind, to be fully present to others. I’m glad that the young woman lived. I hope that she was able to move from this experience with greater wisdom, and the power to choose differently the next time.

      • Congratulations to you for your fuller enjoyment of this past year and a half. It sounds as if it’s beneficial in many ways. Besides yourself, I’m certain it’s bringing benefits to those near to you. Who knows? Perhaps it also helped your quickness of reflexes to save the life of that cyclist!

      • Good point! Maybe my reflexes are sharper. And thanks for the congrats; I don’t even miss the stuff, so much have I enjoyed coming back home to myself in clarity. ❤

  2. Your opening line and stanza caught my eye. This is a polaroid in motion, a snapshot of an all-too common worry. Three people have died on our busy corner in such a way.

    Keep writing and happy new year.

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