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5.24.2011

Vehicular Little Man Slaughter

It is a typical weekday evening: me hungry, needing food, wandering out to the local grocery store, buying more than I can eat in a month because I'm shopping on an empty stomach. I load everything into my car, losing track of everyone and everything around me, save the car door next to mine that has me recoiling in fear and anger over the reckless manner in which it thrusts itself open. Decompressing, I hop in the car, and looking over my right shoulder, I flip it in reverse. As I start to back up, I hear panicked yelling, and I turn to my left to see the family with the lousy car-door etiquette frantically waving their arms at the same frequency as their screams. I slam on the brakes, and equal parts terrified and offended, out from behind my car walks a midget.

A dwarf. A little person. Whatever the proper noun is these days, I almost back over a human being whom I did not see in my rearview mirror because he wasn't tall enough. I almost commit vehicular little man-slaughter.

I try to beg for forgiveness. Adding ironic insult to near-injury, he can't see my profuse apologizing through the 25% tint of my driver's side window. I momentarily consider rolling down the window to have a face to face apology, but the logistics elude me. And what would I say? "I'm sorry, I didn't see you there." Is there a more humiliating way to address his near-death experience? Not only did his family have to wave me off the kill, but now I'm going to rehash the entire sequence by highlighting that the one thing he's most insecure about is actually what would've been most responsible for killing him?

It's difficult enough that he can't drive to the store or push his own cart or help the nonagenarian in her motorized cart grab the jelly off the middle shelf, but now he has to consider his life a game of Frogger just in walking through the parking lot? All because I was consumed by my first world hunger pangs and attention to car-detailing? My life is a conglomeration of me-moments. I live for myself, about myself, to myself all too often. I've got blinders on, and I don't see the world or people around me enough. The things I love are the things I feel the world should love; the things I'm focused on are surely the things with which the rest of the world is absorbed. I fail to take simple moments of un-self-awareness, to see what other people are doing or thinking or saying. I want to live life to the fullest, and that shouldn't look like a mosaic of self-portraits. It needs to involve others--lots of others. Love your neighbor as yourself. If I was doing that the world would be a super-loved gig.

I suppose nearly running over a man lends itself to introspection and gratitude. I've experienced both. But I'm hopeful, beyond the relief of such a potentially life-altering moment for both of us, that it might yet be life-altering for me. I want to be a difference-maker in the lives of others, and not merely by running them over.