The Blessings of Being a Witness
I saw a car accident this morning.
I was sitting at a stoplight, behind a school bus. The light turned green and the bus started to go when a car came speeding through the intersection.
"That was a close one," I thought. Then I noticed the bus wasn't moving, and the car had stopped in the street facing the wrong direction. They’d collided. I put on my hazard lights and ran over to the car.
The driver sat calmly smoking a cigarette.
"Are you okay?"
"Think so," he said. He stared down at the broken glass in his passenger seat like it was a TV screen he'd been watching all night.
I reached for my phone to call the police but I'd left it in the car. He handed me his. Green texts crowded the right-hand side of the screen. My stomach still hurts, the last one read. I tried to not look as I fumbled with the buttons.
Both drivers sat in their vehicles while we waited for the police to arrive. The school bus—empty of children—had a flat tire and a busted headlight. The car had lost its rear view mirror; its passenger door would need replaced. Tire marks in the grass showed that its driver had over-corrected and hopped the curb before spinning out. Traffic flowed around us, slowly, politely. Only a few people gawked.
I drove away feeling cleansed.
The fog from my head had cleared. The depression had lifted. For those fifteen minutes, I had a purpose, even though I had no great wisdom: Stop. Make sure everyone's okay. Call for help. Give thanks that it wasn't you.