About an hour ago I was on my way home from work. As I approached the relatively major intersection a block away from our home, there seemed to be some sort of traffic problem that I couldn't quite recognize or figure out at first. Of course it was still dark, so that made things more difficult to see and sort out. There were a couple of cars in front of me that seemed to be … hmmm … relating to the intersection in a strange way. And there was a car in the intersection facing at a right angle to us … ahh. That's it. That car's not moving, it's just sitting there … no, it just lurched … oh, there's steam coming from the front … Okay, he must have been in an accident and is trying to limp out of the intersection and over to the side. I guess I'd better pull over and see what's up. Where's the other car? This one didn't end up in the middle of the intersection in that condition by running into a light pole. Oh, there it is, over in that vacant lot over there against the building. The side's obviously dented so that must be it, but it doesn't look too bad.
Okay, pull over to the curb, grab the cell phone and call 911. That's the first priority. Report the accident. "Two car accident in intersection. Doesn't look like any injuries … no, I was just driving by, got here as a car was limping out of the intersection …"
Oops, a bus is pulling up behind me, I'd better turn on my emergency flashers. No, I'll pull part-way around the corner. I guess I'd better see if everybody's okay. Ah, he has a cell phone so he probably called …
I'm on the phone with my brother.
Okay, so I tell him I just called the police and they should be here shortly. Start walking back to my car, notice the other one and realize that I'd best see if everything's okay there too. Reach in and stop my engine and take my keys and go across the street and into the lot to the other car.
"Are you okay? Can I help you with anything?" Oh she's on her cell phone too, everything'll be … oh, shit, she's hysterical. "Um, ma'm, I just called the police, they should be here shortly." Oh my God, a child seat in back. Open the door, he looks fine. The child seat was facing back like it's supposed to. Reach in and hold his hand. "You're okay, aren't you?" He's not the most active baby I've ever seen, but heck it's early. He looks aware and together. Not crying which seems odd, but looks good enough. "Your baby looks fine. Yes, I'm sure he's okay. It's good you had this child seat in right."
The woman is still hysterical. I reassure her that her baby's fine. We turn the child seat around so she can see him. This helps her quite a bit, but she's still crying and shaken.
I was just going to pick up my husband— is my baby okay?— I was just driving down the street… I don't know what happened… I've never been in an accident before… Were you the other driver?
"No, I was just passing by and thought I'd stop and see if anybody needed any help." I stay with her and try to reassure her. I talk some more to the baby. He looks a little more active now. The bus still hasn't left. The bus driver comes over.
Ma'm, do you want medical assistance for your baby? I'm on the radio to my dispatcher…
She jerks her head; hard to tell whether it's a nod or a shake. The bus driver says something else, goes back to his bus. I stay and try to calm her down, comfort her, something … I don't know … it's distressing that she's so upset … I talk to the baby some more …
Ah, good, here come the police. A policeman gets out of the car and comes over.
Is your baby okay? There's an ambulance on the way. What happened? Were you going on [this street]? Was the light green?
No, I was on [that street]. The light was green…
Since the police had things in hand I was about to walk away; but the policeman walked away first. She was so upset, I couldn't just leave her there until she was in a little better shape or things were more under control or something. I held her hand and told her things would be okay. She calmed down a bit more. "Well, I guess I'll be going. God bless."
As I got back to my car the fire truck (no doubt in lieu of an ambulance—they do that a lot) was coming down the street. I got into my car and was going to wait until the fire truck had stopped so as not to be complicating things with more intersection movement. As the fire truck approached the intersection, I realized that they might not know which car to go to, so I got back out and pointed/waved toward the car with the woman and baby. The truck pulled up and the emergency crew started over to the right car, so I got in my car and drove home.
Once I got out of my car and was walking between the garage and the house, I was rather surprised at how rattled I felt. Still am a bit, but I've calmed down considerably since then.
The weird thing is that on my way in to work this evening I stopped to see if I could assist a woman whose car was sitting across the mouth of the dead end street my work's parking lots lead off of. Turns out she'd run into the curb and not just flattened her tire but bent her wheel (and probably her axle) all to … someplace. To make a long story short, it turned out there was nothing I could do to help but I think she appreciated my concern and willingness to stop.
Maybe I should just hide under the blankets for the rest of the weekend….