Monday, April 23, 2007

Why Crosswalks Don't Work (a short story)

Chapter 1: The Trouble Begins
Thursday evening I was feeling a bit bored. The Office was a rerun. I spoke with a few friends and suggested that we play Ticket to Ride and eat pizza. They agreed. We planned to play from 8-9 pm, before rogeber would be watching a movie in their living room.

I ordered two pizzas from Brick Oven; one was my favorite (pepperoni, pineapple, and green peppers), and the other was the suggestion of one of the girls playing--a pizza with bacon(!) and peppers.

I began walking to pick up the pizzas and decided to stop by and say hello to branflakes since I was passing his house anyway, and I hadn't talked to him for a while. He was leaving his house and offered me a ride. I accepted. We picked up pizzas and he drove me to the house we were playing at. I told him he could drop me off across the street and I'd cross, to save him time.

He did.

Chapter 2: The Plot Thickens
Branflakes rounded the corner and I waited for traffic to clear. I began crossing the street, in the crosswalk. About one third of the way across, I looked to my left and saw a motorcycle a few feet away from me. Unable to react quickly enough, I was hit by the motorcycle and fell in the middle of the busy street. The game and two pizzas dropped and napkins floated to the ground.

Traffic paused. The man who was riding the motorcycle had fallen off before it hit me. Two girls who had witnessed the incident came to see if I was okay. Was I okay? I wanted to say that I was fine, but I couldn't because I was in shock. Also, since I couldn't speak, I started to realize that I wasn't fine. My lower chest hurt badly. I couldn't move my left leg at all. (What if I had internal bleeding? What if my leg was broken. What if I couldn't play Ticket to Ride?) The girls picked me up and one on each side, they carried me back to the grass across the street from where I was going. I was probably mostly dead weight at first, but started to be able to use my right leg a bit. The guy from the motorcycle wondered if I was okay-ish. I was, I told him. Branflakes parked his car a bit ahead and, privy to what had happened, he came back to see how I was.

Apparently, a car turned in front of the motorcycle. Since the car was turning, Motorcycle Man couldn't see me until it was much too late. He was Very Concerned and apologized profusely.

I said I would probably be fine, and could I just go across the street to my friends' apartment? [NO. The police would want me to do paperwork.] Wellll, could they come get me when they were ready for me? [NO. The police didn't like it when people leave the scene of an accident before they get there. ] Oh. Okay.

The witnesses started talking. Should they call 911? I would be okay, I told them. That wouldn't be necessary. My chest stopped hurting. I stood up to prove that my leg was okay, and it felt like it would be. They agreed. It would be okay to call the police directly, instead of calling 911. "I already called 911," a witness admitted.

Great. Moments later, there were sirens. Four or five police cars came. The paramedics came, and a fire truck came and left. Did I want a ride in the ambulance? No, I assured them that I didn't. They told me that I could have the ride if I wanted it, but that it would cost $400 and I would be fine to take in a car if I wanted to go to the hospital. Branflakes accepted their assurance that I would be okay-ish, and I promised him and everyone that I'd go to the doctor if I felt like I needed to. I told him I would be fine, and he left.

About the same time as the sirens all came, the entire neighborhood became curious about what had happened. People came to their windows to watch from across the street. One guy went out to the stairway to stand at the edge and watch. Two of Optimistic[.]'s roommates who were going to be playing Ticket to Ride came to their window to watch. I grinned and waved so they'd know that I wasn't dead. They waved back and continued watching.

I called the friend who had suggested the bacon pizza and told her that I'd been run over. I suggested that she walk along the main street when she came so that she would walk past the excitement. She did, and came to hear the story and wait with me while I had to supply my ID and let the police do their paperwork.

A couple friends walked by the apartment and I let them know that I'd been run over and would be inside to play the game shortly.

You may be wondering if the pizzas made a mess on the road, or if the game was ruined. The pizzas and the game survived the accident better than I did.

I had fun laughing and joking with the police and witnesses. The police were kind of taking a while, though, and I started to feel a bit faint. I was thirsty, I told them. Could I cross the street and get water and come back? They granted me permission to do so.

I went into the apartment and announced my news: "I just got run over by a Vespa!"

Everyone wanted to hear the story. I told them. I also suggested that they begin eating pizza before it got cold. I went back to the police.

Must be nice being able to park by red curbs, I told them. They could park anywhere, they said, for emergencies. I joked with them "Oh, gosh, this is such an emergency! There's no parking anywhere!" They laughed. They said that often, they'll go to respond to emergencies, and they'll park along red curbs. They'll take care of the problem. Everything clears up, and they'll walk to their cars. People who didn't see the emergency when it was there will see them walking to their cars, parked along a red curb, and they'll start shouting dumb things about how since they're police they think they don't have to obey the laws. And the police will just put up with it, because people are dumb sometimes and don't know what they're talking about. (Police are such troopers.)

They asked me for my account of what happened, which was basically that I looked up and the motorcycle was right there. Were there other cars? Oh, sure. It was busy. Did I notice any in particular? Nope, sorry.

The motorcycle man apologized more. I have the same name as his wife, he said. He was so sorry that we'd met this way. He gave me a hug. We started making accident jokes-- So, how did you meet? Oh, he ran into me the other day. Just (shrug) on the street. The police groaned and smiled.

Eventually, I was dismissed to go play Ticket to Ride.

Chapter 3: The Long Evening
I hobbled across the street and into the apartment. I was covered in street. What happened? Everyone wanted to know. I retold the story several times as different people arrived and hadn't heard it.

I was feeling okay, but gradually, I started to feel less okay. My chest started hurting again. My leg started hurting a lot. I took some ibuprofen. I felt sore.

One of the guys offered me a ride home (as he often does). (Was the Vespa the one that was parked near me?) Yes, it was. (Um, [dimmi], that wasn't a Vespa. That was a motorcycle.) Oh. Yeah, because Vespas are like scooters. And I wasn't hit by a scooter. Well, it was red, I remembered. And maybe the name on it started with V.

I got home and found Lavish and Yellow watching a movie. "Guess what I did tonight," I told them. They guessed a few things. "I got run over!" I said, and went into the kitchen for water. "You what?!" Lavish asked. I came back and told them the story. "AND YOU DIDN'T CALL ME?!" Lavish was shocked. "Well. I was fine. And you were at your French dinner. Anyway, I would have called if I went into the emergency room." "New rule," she said. "Any time you get run over, you have to call me..."

Chapter 4: A Lovely Visit
Since I wasn't feeling well, I got permission to miss work that night. And I slept through part of Job #2 the next day. I called and told them what had happened, and took the rest of my scheduled shift off.

My mom had left a message on my phone wondering why I hadn't called her, since Lavish had told her that morning.

Optimistic[.] offered me a ride to the doctor, since I was still feeling unwell. I wasn't thrilled to go, but Mom thought it was a good idea too. ("What if you're feeling worse in a week? Then you'd go in and they'd ask why you didn't come a week ago..." "Anyway, it's good to check things out just in case.") He drove me far, far away (like 15 minutes) to the Urgent Care place that my insurance recommended when I called them.

They had a 1.75 hour approximate wait time posted. Optimistic[.] had work, so he arranged for rogeber to pick me up afterwards. I began waiting.

I looked for a decent magazine to read. There were a couple news magazines that looked promising, but they were across the room. Another lady saw me peeking through the stack of magazines that was on the table by me. "They don't have any of the good ones," she said to save me time. "There are no gossip magazines at all. I checked. That's the only reason why I didn't bring a book. I thought I'd just read one of those, but there are none." I feigned disappointment. "I just read this one, though. It was okay." She offered me a kitchen decorating magazine. "I actually don't have a kitchen to decorate," I confessed. "I live in student housing..."

"Oh, that's the best time to read them." She explained to me why it's worth it to decide what you like before you actually build a kitchen. You wind up with ideas. Otherwise you spend a lot of money on a kitchen that is just average and not what you really want. She was planning on having a new house later this year, and a new kitchen within a couple years. We discussed the merits of kitchen islands. She said she doesn't like them to have stoves, etc.

It was during that conversation that I decided something: waiting room conversations are the worst because the only thing that you have in common (the visit) is something that you usually can't discuss politely. It would have been entirely inappropriate to ask why she was seeing the doctor, but that was the only thing that we had in common, so we were left with nothing. This same phenomenon is the same reason why many people don't start conversations in waiting rooms to begin with. (That's also unfortunate, since long waits pass more quickly when you're distracted by conversation.)

Think about it, though: When you're at a wedding, you talk to strangers about the bride and groom. When you're at yoga, you talk about yoga. When you're waiting for kindergarten to let out, you talk about kids. When you're at the doctor's office...nothing.

Chapter 5: A Happy Resolution
I eventually made it in to see the doctor. He was happy to see me. "You served a mission, didn't you. " He could tell, he said. (Utah is such a funny place. ) I did. Where? Italy. He came close and showed me his name tag. It was a very Italian name. His grandparents were all Italian except one that was from Poland. He started speaking Italian with me. Nice. He told me about his experiences on his mission, and about how much he likes sister missionaries. Neat. I was so sweet, he said.

He checked my leg. And my ribs. And sent me off with Chuck, for x-rays, since I wanted them and nobody had any reason to believe they wouldn't be a good idea. Chuck took x-rays of my knee and leg and sent me back to Dr. Friendly (name has been changed).

The doctor came back into the room and told me I was lucky. I have "one heckuva bruise," he said. Or, if I wanted to impress my friends, I could tell them that I have a "severe pre-tibial contusion." He told me I should ice my leg for 20 minutes, three times a day. I told him that was a lot, and I'd think about it. He came up with a schedule for me, to show me that I could handle it. Ohhhh, he liked sister missionaries so much, he told me some more. He gave me a side hug, and sent me on my way.

Epilogue: How am I now?
I am still really bruised. My leg hurts, and it's starting to turn purple. My chest sometimes hurts, but not as much as before. I think I'll be okay.

Overall, I give being run over by a motorcycle only 1 of 5 stars. It was an interesting experience (I'd never been run over before), and it's been nice to have everyone inquiring about my wellbeing. I got to see really cool x-rays of my leg, and it's made for an cool story. These benefits have all been overshadowed with feelings that the whole event has been a major waste of time. I missed 8 minutes of playing Ticket to Ride and missed two goings to work. Also, I spent a lot of time waiting for the doctor. Additionally, the experience has been quite painful and makes me a bit nervous about crossing streets. So, I don't recommend it to anyone.

Also, I used to occasionally mutter under my breath that people should just run me over, and I'll sue them. I have no intentions to sue anyone, and the experience has not had many redeeming qualities. I don't think I'll mutter about it in the future.

The End.


Thirdmango said...

That's crazy! I've also had mutterings of people should just run me over, but now I doubt I'd want to. Also like you when I got injured once I made sure people knew i was fine, and that they wouldn't have to worry. It was a frisbee accident in which I landed on my head. I slept that night about 18 hours without waking up. I finally went to the doctor about a week later, he told me I had a cuncussion and that the night of I should have had someone close to wake me up every couple hours as there was risk of a coma. Irk.

I bet though now you can play ticket to ride more since you're on everyone's sympathy side. Oh, and I really wanna play that game again.

Yellow said...

Can I just say that you write really well? This was way entertaining to read.

L'Afro said...

Holy Moses, Dimmi. You win the "most insane experience" award from me. I'm just so glad you're not maimed.

Olympus said...

Troopers ... Dr. Friendly ... a bolded "1 out of 5 stars." These are the parts that made me laugh the most.

mah hah.

beautiful retelling:)

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