Tuesday, February 06, 2007

...like a vapor

As a suburbanite who works in downtown St. Paul, I get my fair share of driving experiences. Also, as someone who parks quite far away from the actual building where I work (it is less expensive); I have my fair share of pedestrian experiences. What experiences? I’m talking about accidents or, thankfully in my case, near accidents.

In my five and a half years of making this type of commute, I have only been involved in one accident, and it was a small (virtually insignificant) one at that. However, I cannot even guess the amount of close calls that I have had in that time and most of these have occurred when I was a pedestrian having to evade an oncoming car. Even before any close calls occurred, I remember thinking that I’m more likely to get hit during my one mile walk to and from my car each day than I am to be involved in a serious car accident where I am a driver. Because of this thought, I have been very careful not to tempt oncoming traffic by making unwise decisions. Basically, I cross at crosswalks when I have a green (or white) light.

The most memorable close call that I’ve had when walking happened just a week or so ago when I was crossing the intersection of Wabasha & 7th St in St. Paul. Basically (looking at the picture), I was attempting to go from point #1 to point #2 crossing Wabasha (1 way street going North). Now, I must stress that I had a white walk signal while I was doing this. What happened was that while I was in the middle of the road, car “A” turned left onto Wabasha. This car came pretty quick and I had to slow down (actually stop) in the middle of the road in order to avoid being struck by this car. Then, no more than a few seconds later, car “B” did the same, thing except I had to significantly quicken my pace (run) forward to avoid being clipped by it.

Now, when I avoided the first car, I just pseudo-glared at the driver with (what I imagine) was my fatherly “that was uncalled for” face. But when I was forced to avoid the second driver, I yelled at the top of my lungs a forceful “Watch out! Pedestrian!” I am always thankful that I’m not carrying any sort of baseball, rock, or other item because I would likely throw it at the vehicle in my moment of excitement.

In retrospect, it is a testimony to how frequently I have to avoid oncoming cars that the first car only received a glare from me and not a vocal admonition to be more careful. Also, I must stress again that I make it a point to wait for any and all lights at the intersections unless there are no cars anywhere near. I do so because I don’t want to end up getting hit, and definitely not if it is my fault.

Fast forward to today. It started snowing around 6AM today, and my goal was to be at work by 7AM. Well, I left my home just after 6AM and quickly realized that I would not make it to work anywhere near my goal. So, I found myself traveling south on 35E just passing under Maryland at 8AM. I was on the phone with my wife (using my hands free headset so as to be safe on the road) when I noticed that a snow plow was coming onto 35E from Maryland. Looking at the picture, I was about horizontally in line with the small red arrow on the onramp while the snowplow was basically where that same red arrow is. Judging by the speed of the plow, my speed, and the road conditions (bad) I decided to let him in front of me. No sooner had he pulled onto the road in front of me did I notice that there were two others behind him. At this point, I had no real option of slowing down or switching lanes (the first plow had already done that), so I just kept my speed going at the rate that the traffic had been moving and was going to slowly speed up.

No sooner had I made this decision than the second plow sped past me, honking his horn. This would not have been that bad if he hadn’t been so close. I had to swerve out of his way while trying to avoid the plow in the lane to my left as well as without losing control on the slippery freeway. So, looking at the picture, I was the thicker red arrow on I35, and it was about at that point where the second plow cut me off. Now, I realize that this is not to scale, but that might give an idea of the setting.

I realize that God spared my life today. I told my mother about this near encounter and she asked how I was doing. I said something to the effect of, “Well, life is truly like a vapor, and sometimes…I guess, God has a way of reminding us of just how precarious our situation is.” Glory to God that he saved me today. I can’t imagine the trauma that my wife would have gone through if I were injured or killed today. Any trauma would have been amplified by the fact that we were talking when it would have happened.

Holy God, may I be ever ready to come into your presence. Whether I come from a hospital bed when I am dying of age or some disease, or if I am killed in an instant with no inclination of what was about to occur, or if I am in a position where I see my death (whether painful or somewhat painless) approaching rapidly in the prime of my life…. May I be ready to come into your presence on the basis of Jesus’ righteousness. And between this day and that, may I live in such a way as to run the race to obtain the prize. For at no time would you be unjust in ending my life, or the lives of those on this earth who I love the most. May my attitude be that of Job. “Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)

Honda Del Sol - the car that I drive to and from the city in.The snow plow - as close to scale as compared with the Del Sol


Tobin said...

I believe that the pedestrian has the right of way in a crosswalk, whether or not you are crossing "with the light". So technically if you get hit, it's not your fault no matter what.

Good luck with that one though!

melinda said...

Your story made me NOT miss winter and snow quite so much! Glad you're ok; we heard there were some pretty bad weather-related accidents.

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