I watched this kid on a bicycle get hit by an SUV. He had to have been going about 15-20 mph. The SUV was doing the same with a hard left, only straight into the kid with its right fender. His back tire rose about 3 feet, no panicked swerves, no brakes and no screams. Did he not see her either, or did he know what was coming? Anyhow, his front wheel made first contact, his handlebars took a good 90 degree bend, and the kid bounced off the right fender. It was like watching a billiard game because the kid landed on his feet and even walked a few steps in the direction the SUV was headed. Maybe like watching wine swirl in a glass because it was pretty fucking fluid. I pulled over at the exact moment I finished yelling, “holy shit,” which began when the fender made contact with the bicycle right in front of me.
“Are you alright?” yelled separate motorist to the kid.”…I guess.” sighed the kid. It was almost as though he were disappointed it wasn’t worse.
“Sit down, dude.” I said.
“I’m okay.” replied the kid.
“The adrenalin’s probably kicked in. I bet nothing hurts.” I said.
“Do you want me to call the cops?” asked the separate motorist.
“No. I’m okay.” answered the kid.
“Alright, do what you want, but check to see if your hands are steady every few minutes. The adrenalin’s wearing off when it starts to shake.” I said. The kid raised his hand to see if it shook. He could’ve been a surgeon.
“I think I need to call the cops.” decided the separate motorist.
I got a feeling that getting the cops involved was something neither the kid nor I had wanted. I had to stay for a “fucking statement now,” I thought. I don’t know why the kid expressed dismay. Anyway the cops came and seemingly legitimate information was exchanged and there we were. I helped tighten the bolts on the kids bike. Everything was fine except is handlebars and chain. Easy fix. The kid assured the SUV driver, a 53 year old woman, that he was fine and more importantly that he would not be pressing charges. I joked that her fender was the only thing fixing, and her insurance premiums, she left. I offered the kid a ride home with me. He declined. I insisted. He accepted.
“Why didn’t you press charges?”
“She didn’t mean to hit me.” replied the kid.
“And if she did?”
“…I dunno.” he replied.
“Come on, what if she wanted to hit you? Like she was pissed off at the world and she wanted to take it out on somebody, and you were there, the set up was right, etcetera etcetera?”
“…I guess she feels good because she did hit me.” he replied. We got to a stoplight in short silence. “She probably feels bad if she wanted to kill me though.”
“That doesn’t piss you off? You’ve been pretty calm about this whole thing. Too calm even. I mean, did you see her coming?” I asked.
“I saw her coming.”
“You saw her coming.”
“You tried braking?”
“You tried to swerve?”
“You couldn’t brake or swerve in time?”
“Maybe.” he replied. Another momentary silence.
After a moment of thought I deduced, “you didn’t want to brake or swerve.” at that he said nothing.
If I were him, I wouldn’t have responded either because that would’ve been crazy. But then again, I wouldn’t have responded if I thought the person asking was only asking because they gave the impression that a damn was given. No one ever really does, especially to strangers. It’s just that most of us have been conditioned to give the impression that we care. As if the well-being of someone we didn’t know a lick about directly affected our own. Doctors, lawyers, psychologists, politicians do this all the time, and their professions are the most revered in our society. We emulate them. If the kid had held his silence because he thought my worry was insincere, I wouldn’t have blamed him. But I was curious.
It was only after I was near his destination that he finally spoke, “It doesn’t matter if I wanted to brake or swerve. But no one died. And from now on, that lady’s so scared that she’s going to be careful about the little people on the street, like, the people walking and the cyclists. I wasn’t sad that I didn’t die when she hit me or anything, that’s weird. I was glad that it didn’t have to be somebody else because I dunno… I think I handled the whole thing pretty cool. Anyway, thanks a lot for the ride.”
As I watched the kid walk away with his fucked up bicycle, I knew exactly who he was. He was one of the few earthshakers we had left in the world. He may have seemed a little emotionally detached, but this was because of his calmness and maturity, not because he doesn’t care. I think he was the oldest kid I’d ever met.