I work downtown Dallas, and I park in a tower parking garage. I have a short walk up one level to the pedestrian walkway. I've walked it every morning for 10 years without event.
This morning I locked my car and set out up the ramp. Just then a luxury sports sedan flew around the corner, swinging wide - and narrowly missed my right hip. Rather than slowing down to maybe give me a wave or just slowing down period, the driver floored it to the top of the ramp, and wheeled into a prime parking spot right by the elevator. My walking path to the elevator was going to take me right past him.
I contemplated what, if anything I would say. I had an amazingly calm, quiet and grounding morning at home before work, and I was feeling very balanced, and happy. So mentally I was in a good place and able to be calm, not angry about the event.
I thought of when I worked in another downtown highrise, and parked in another parking garage, and what Frank, an attorney with whom I worked had said to me once. He had just arrived at the office and set down his briefcase and his lunch, and he looked at me and said, "You know, I don't think people would drive so fast in parking garages if they had ever been a pedestrian themselves." It stuck with me, because it's so true. I've thought about it as cars have whizzed by me on dog walks, and in flat lots, and I recalled it again this morning, after my narrow miss. How fast it seems like a car is going is very different if you are IN the car, versus if you are on foot and it passes by you.
And so as I approached the man gathering up his things off the top of his car, I smiled and said, "Have you ever been a pedestrian?" He furrowed his brow and looked at me, and I repeated my question. He thought for a moment, and said, "Well yes, I suppose I have."
"Gosh, you flew by me so fast - just missed me, in fact, and I wondered if you've ever had that jolt of fear yourself, as a pedestrian."
By now we were in the skywalk, walking side by side.
He took a moment in thought, and said, "Well I guess it's a good thing that I didn't hit you."
"Yes, I'm happy that you didn't."
"But if I had hit you... well, you'd really be happy, because you'd be set for life financially."
Me, almost speechless, "I hope you have a great day."
"Yes, I hope you have a great day, too - it seems as though it's off to a great start."
I honestly feel so sorry for this guy. For a whole bunch of reasons:
His knee jerk reaction is that money is the answer to happiness. It seemingly wouldn't matter if I had been seriously injured, as long as I got a pot of cash in return. What an unhappy outlook. (I actually think he's a lawyer - and after working with them for years, you can see how in conversations some of them often believe they are ohhh so clever.)
He seemed angry and defensive and was unable to accept responsibility for his actions. He never did say he was sorry for scaring the tar out of me. (I'm still shaking as I type this.)
He was either late/stressed/harried, and we all know that isn't an enjoyable way to begin your work day.
Or, he feels the need to exhibit power by flooring a car with a big engine in a confined space. I suppose he could just really love driving his car fast, but ... can we agree that a parking garage isn't quite the appropriate locale for that enjoyment and display?
He just seemed really unhappy. At least to me.
A woman did get hit in this garage, just last Spring. The garage closed, an ambulance came, pedestrian traffic was diverted - and I saw her - bleeding, on the gurney - it wasn't pretty. And she was just walking to work.
We all just need to slow down. In our cars, during our meals, with our friends & family. Slow down, look around you, drink it in. Who knows what you are missing?
I've seen him about my building before, and I'm sure I'll see him again. I expect that when we do meet again, our temperments won't have changed much. But maybe even if he can't admit it out loud, to me, he'll review his behaviour and change it just a bit. For the next pedestrian. And when I do see him? I'll try to send a little Zen his way.