By Nancy Mendelson

Last Thursday my friend Harry and I were driving to Philly. He was behind the wheel and I was white-knuckling it in the passenger seat all the way across town to the Lincoln Tunnel, praying that we would make it to New Jersey without hitting anyone. But Harry isn’t a bad driver. The problem is that most people walk around this city with their heads up their asses.

Block by block, we were forced to negotiate this urban obstacle course, trying to steer clear of the geniuses who disregard traffic lights to traverse intersections whenever they feel inclined, then dodging the numbnuts who dart in and out of the spaces between parked cars like Amazonian tree frogs.

Really People? Did you sleep through First Grade when they taught you to CROSS AT THE GREEN AND NOT IN BETWEEN!!!!

Driving in New York City makes me crazy—so much so that I let my license expire past the point at which renewal would be possible without attending driving school all over again (stupid, I know). These days, even being a passenger gives me agita. Could it be that I’m still traumatized by an accident my husband and I got into a couple years ago?

My husband and I were driving down Lexington Avenue at the legal speed as we approached a green light. Out of nowhere, our path was obstructed by a bicycle delivery guy who had been riding in the wrong direction down a one-way street before he ran a red light. By the time my husband slammed on the brakes, it was too late. Both deliveryman and bicycle flew into the air and crashed onto our hood. The reckless cyclist’s head and our windshield cracked simultaneously, then the man rolled onto the street, where he lay, motionless. As a crowd gathered, my husband and I bolted from our vehicle to check on the injured man and to dial 911.

“I saw the whole thing. It wasn’t your fault,” said a woman hugging the dog she had been walking when the accident occurred. “I’ll tell that to the police, so don’t worry.” Other bystanders chimed in too. Don’t worry, it wasn’t your fault, witnesses told us in various iterations as they took turns recounting what they’d seen.

DON’T WORRY????? Really People????? There’s a human being lying in the street. WE HIT HIM. You really think we give a shit about whose fault it is?

All of a sudden, the guy popped up onto his feet. Terrified, he grabbed his bike in an attempt to flee the scene. My husband and I immediately tried to stop him—not because we wanted to sue the guy but because we wanted him to get checked out by a doctor. Thankfully, in response to the cyclist’s sudden outburst in Chinese, the owners of a nearby Chinese restaurant darted over to see what the commotion was about.

The restaurateurs explained that the deliveryman was afraid of losing his job. In turn, we asked them to clarify that all we wanted was for him to be examined at the hospital since he had likely experienced a concussion.

When the police arrived, we relayed the events. So did the witnesses. Near certain that the deliveryman was an illegal immigrant, the cops encouraged us NOT to file a report. We weren’t likely to get any insurance money, they said. And this happened all the time. OY FREAKIN’ VEY!!!!

Long story short, we waited until an ambulance arrived to take the guy to the hospital. We didn’t press charges, and we used our own money to repair our car.

Years later I can still see the imprint of that man’s head in our smashed windshield. More disturbing than that image, however, is remembering that no one gave a shit about him—except us.

Since the accident, I have become hypersensitive to—and easily exasperated by—the pedestrians, bike riders, roller skaters and skateboarders who leave the responsibility of their safety up to the drivers of vehicles with four or more wheels.

To all of you with your heads up your asses while in transit (including myself at times), I say, WAKE THE F*CK UP. Safety is a two-way street!!!!

2 Responses to Really People? Are You a Crash Test Dummy?

  1. Elif says:

    Nancy – I hear you, but aggressive pedestrian maneuvers around traffic is as native to NYers as being PO’ed at those doing it (if you happen to be driving)!

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