Friday, September 04, 2009

Don't Walk, Part 2

You’re not going to believe this, but popping out to lunch for a bagel in suburbia can be pretty dangerous after all. Why, just today I nearly got killed for it.

I was waiting for the pedestrian light at a seven-lane highway to cross to Einstein’s Bagels, one of only three eateries in our neighbourhood within easy walking distance. When the light turns, you have about ten seconds to scurry across the seven lanes. Today, because it’s a long weekend, traffic was already heavy and hectic as everyone was trying to beat the rush to the beach. At the pedestrian signal, I took a step out to cross when a car in one of the middle lanes sped through the red light. This actually saved my life, because I instinctively took a step back to the pavement. At that second a mini-van in the closest lane also accelerated through the red light, a good three seconds after it had changed, at around 50mph. If it hadn’t killed me instantly, I can say for sure that my football career would have been over for good. But I was only hit by the rush of air.

There was a woman in the passenger seat and I saw for a split second, from very close quarters, the expression of horror on her face, and her hand raised to her mouth. I’m sure the driver didn’t mean to try and kill me, but he deliberately jumped that light to save himself a 20-second wait. Well worth risking a human life for. I then crossed the road with Mrs. Pop, who was coming to lunch with me, and we joked about how she would probably just have kept on obliviously talking about Dominic Strauss-Kahn’s possible bid for the French presidency while I was half way to Bethany Beach plastered across the front of a suburban van’s front bumper. Not to mention the irony of a whining suburban blogger dying an inglorious death on the helm of the very vehicle symbolising all that he moans about.

Einstein’s was surreal. The staff were on a go-slow, and there were a dozen patrons, silent with hunger, staring dolefully at the counter waiting for their food. There were some young, bovine-looking women wearing mismatched 60s clothing they must have chosen while severely drugged. One of them dropped a full bottle of Nantucket Nectar on the floor just as I passed her to get some serviettes. I jumped nimbly to avoid the shattered glass and the flood of fruit juice. She looked down dumbly at the mess she’d created as the overstretched counter staff reached wearily for the mop and bucket.

A minor incident, but the first one in the remaining instalment of my life.