I just got hit by a car. I was biking across Euclid at 16th Street NW, and everything seemed to be in order: I was in the crosswalk, Euclid had a red light, I had a walk signal. Prime crossing time, I thought, dutifully looking both ways. Nevertheless, a bouncy old Cadillac, which was stopped at the intersection long before I started crossing, still managed to lurch forward just as I rolled in front of it, thereby hitting me.
It’s not a huge deal. I didn’t fall over; I didn’t lose consciousness; I simply extricated myself from his grill and made my way to the corner.
What surprised me most was my own reaction to the incident. I’ve never been hit by a car before, but had you posited the scenario to me in the hypothetical, I would have certainly imagined myself enraged and vengeful. This morning, however, once the hypothetical became a gruesome reality, I found myself timid and awkward. As I waited at the corner for the light to change, I could not bring myself to make eye contact with the driver who had just hit me. Even though I was in the right of way, I still hung my head in a backwards kind of shame. It felt like the moment after a drunken hookup at a bar that both parties regret and neither wants to talk about.
So, in order to take my mind off a mildly throbbing right hamstring, I wonder: was I wrong? Should I have put this irresponsible motorist in his place? Pounded his hood? Kicked his windshield? Twisted his tailpipe?
And the question that is truly pestering me: if I, the hapless victim, was catapulted into such a moral quandary after this encounter, what is going through the driver’s head? Anything? Anything at all?