April 22, 2010


Something happened yesterday on the way back to the office from the university.

I was in Dartmouth, on Cross Road, near potter Elementary School. As you can see from the street view link, I was coming up on a crosswalk. There was a family on my right who were waiting to cross. The parents were each carrying a child, and there was a boy of about 8 or 9, I would guess. I stopped, in accordance with Massachusetts law, and gave them plenty of space.

It's a busy road; a few cars piled up behind me as the parents looked the other way to check for oncoming cars. The son did not wait - he went charging across the street, not seeing the white sport scar that was speeding toward all of us in the opposite direction. I couldn't tell whether his parents were shouting to stop him because suddenly I could only see the boy and the car and the radio faded out and I did not want to see what was about to happen.

But someone must have been screaming, because just as the boy stepped over the yellow lines in the road, his feet stopped as if stuck firmly to the ground. He never did look to the right for the car speeding toward him. But now he was dealing with the leftover momentum from running.

The car, which apparently was not familiar with Massachusetts law, paid not attention to the crosswalk, the family, the boy, or the screaming that I could not hear. Just as it passed into the crosswalk, the boy was leaning over into his lane, curving his body into a "C" shape as he fought not to fall in front of the car. He wobbled forward, cartoonishly and wide-eyed. The white car passed within what seemed like inches. For a split second it looked like the boy was checking his reflection in the driver's side window.

Then, the boy rocked backward on his heels before stepping back to steady himself.

Sound returned. The white car rolled on, oblivious. I saw the father's face, relieved but shouting angrily for the boy to stop.

Nobody was hurt. But I think I may have left several heartbeats on Cross Road yesterday.

Posted by James at April 22, 2010 11:56 AM
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Holy crap, my heart is pounding just from reading your description. I was just the other day thinking that we need a word to describe that combination of relief and anger that a parent feels at that moment. "Don't you EVER do that again!" screamed through tears, while hugging the child tightly.

Posted by: Karen at April 22, 2010 1:36 PM

It was a harrowing experience, and over much more quickly than it took me to get over it.

Posted by: James at April 22, 2010 2:47 PM

Wow! My heartbeat accelerated a bit reading that too, and what a time for me to pop in for the first time! I applaud your ability to convey the essence of the moment, scary though it was. I'm thankful we can talk about no one being physically hurt.

Posted by: Sean at May 6, 2010 12:20 PM

Thanks, I didn't realize this was still the top post on my blog. The perils of returning to school, I guess! I will have to return to a more regular posting schedule soon.

Thanks for stopping by.

Posted by: James at May 6, 2010 1:58 PM

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