I'm two weeks in to my sabbatical, time off, whatever. I'm now in New York for the week, after spending last week in Montreal, whose streets have more potholes than the moon. Like the Bermuda Triangle, accidentally driving into one would inevitably have lead me into another dimension. Luckily, that didn't happen.
Though my stay in Montreal was not accident-free. Around the corner from my parents' place, a lanky 14 year-old ran across the street and right in front of my car. I slammed on the brakes but alas, too late. -boom- He went up on the hood as I slammed on the brakes, and as the car skidded to a stop, he landed a few feet from the front of the car. I, sanely, stood him up, checked him out, and asked if was ok (he was evidently fine). I called an ambulance while a witness called the police. It must have been 10 seconds before the paramedics arrived. We called his mother who ran franctically to the scene, overwhelmed yet relieved to find her son unscathed. A little shaken, yet relieved, I went over the accident with the officer who was extraordinarily sympathetic to me. He went on to describe how careless the "piétons" (pedestrians) in Montreal can be. He reassured me the accident was not my fault (after hearing my side of the story).
In retrospect, the child was afraid, not hurt. This was particularly evident when we called the police. This poor kid thought he'd be in big trouble. His reaction was at par with ours. The freaked-out entourage caused him to be freaked out. Before walking home with his parents, I reassured him that it was neither his fault, nor mine.
I had asked his parents for their phone number so that I can call them the following day (and gave them mine to call me for whatever reason). Happily, they gave it to me.
The only damage: the child's CD player, which I replaced with, say, a nicer version.
I called the following day for an update: he was doing great and his parents were understanding and appreciated the follow-up. When I arrived at their apartment to give the boy his replacement CD player, they would not let me go without insisting I stay for a drink. I must have spent an hour and a half with them. I felt lucky and humbled that such good and understanding could have stemmed from a car accident. They were understanding, empathetic, and down-to-earth. They manifested not an iota of blame or vindiction.
These are truly good people whose exemplary behaviour has reminded me of humanity's ultimate capacity for compassion and forgiving. I needed to have that accident and am thankful for the outcome.
I believe I have the right of way.