The title of this post was driven home, literally, on Sunday, when my eldest boy slammed into a Jeep while biking down the road a few hundred feet from our home. The Jeep driver was exiting her driveway. When I arrived on scene a few frantic minutes later, and the driver realized my relationship to the young man writhing on the ground clutching the gaping wound in his leg, she apologized profusely: "I'm sorry; I didn't see him." I believe her.
Only a psychopath would intentionally exit a driveway in a 2000lb metal box into the path of a 170 lb human on a bicycle. Through traffic on any highway or bi-way, whether four-wheel, two-wheel, pedestrian, or horse, has the right of way. My son had the right of way. Now he has eleven stitches sealing the leg wound, and his left arm in a sling because his shoulder is so swollen and painful he can't use his arm. We're waiting on the radiologist's report. Why am I posting this?
To remind everyone, writers and non-writers alike, to stay alert, assume the other person has NOT seen you, and drive, walk, peddle, or ride defensively, and be prepared. Wear the damn seatbelt, or helmet, even if it wrinkles your blouse, or gives you helmet head. It's better than brain dead. Pack a cell phone. Even if you're only going to the corner, or around the block; if you're involved in an accident, and you're conscious and coherent, use it, or ask a witness/helper to use it, to call 911. If you're unconscious, emergency personnel can use it to track down family/friends. Most importantly, don't assume the other person involved in the accident will do the right thing.
Last information we received, the Jeep driver was denying exiting her driveway. This, after leaving her vehicle to check on my son immediately following the collision, and when my husband arrived to help, advising him she needed "to get off the road"; she returned to the Jeep, backed it deep into her driveway—where it was when I arrived on scene—ran into her home and returned with a blanket to wrap around my son to keep him warm as he was going into shock (Thank you).
Writers—it's okay to broadside the reader. Readers crave the unexpected; they seek excitement; want to be shocked, mystified, outraged; entertained. Mothers, on the other hand, want peace of mind, especially where their young ones are concerned.
This mother wants her son to heal quickly and fully so he can get back to work and recreation. She also wants the Jeep driver to know she's forgiven. Accidents happen. And she asks the driver to ask herself:
What would she want if her son was involved in a similar incident? What level of accountability and respect would she expect from the driver? What level of accountability and respect does she want for herself, and to model for her children?
The initial impact of an accident cannot be changed. My son was hurt. The Jeep damaged. Minds and emotions of many people, including the driver, traumatized. The only power any of us has now is in affecting the outcome.
Responsibility. Accountability. Apology. Forgiveness. Acceptance.
In case of doubt, decide in favor of what is correct. ~Karl Kraus