An Unexpected Moment That Leaves a Lot to Ponder

There almost was no blog today. In fact, there almost was no me. Yesterday, as I was walking Maxi, our miniature poodle, I came – quite literally – within inches of death. It happened in a flash – so fast I did not have time to be afraid. But reliving the moment later, my blood runs cold. Yes, I am a coward. I do not want to die. Not yet.

shar-peiHere’s what happened. There’s a big dog, a Chinese Shar-Pei (like the one pictured at right), living at a home on the way to the marina. I have passed by that home dozens, maybe hundreds, of times when I take Maxi for his evening walk. The Shar-Pei used to run to the edge of the sidewalk and watch us go by, obviously restrained by an electric fence. But in the past couple of weeks, he has run out on the sidewalk, trying to get at Maxi, and I have had to shoo him away with shouts of “No!” and “Go home!” He growled at me sometimes but I was able to get Maxi away from him on those occasions. As I found out later his electric-fence collar had malfunctioned and a new one was ordered but had not yet arrived.

poodleYesterday, the Shar-Pei was not impressed by my shouts and gestures. He was intent on getting to Maxi, who is about a tenth of his size (pictured at left). I stooped to fend him off and pick up Maxi, who had slipped out of his collar, and the next thing I knew I was tumbling head-over-heels into the road. The Shar-Pei had knocked my legs out from under me, and I landed on my back and left elbow in front of the oncoming traffic. I can still hear the chilling screech of brakes that signal a car skidding out of control, unable to stop, and the thought flashed through my mind that this was the end for me. But miraculously, I felt no impact. Instead, I saw locked wheels skidding by, trailing smoke and the scent of burning rubber. A yellow car swerved toward the sidewalk and stopped about 30 yards away. A blond woman emerged. Her face was ashen.

“Are you all right?” she asked. Lying in the road, my elbow hurting as only elbows hurt, I did not know whether I was all right. I think I told her yes, I was all right, and she must have gone on her way, because all I was aware of was a flurry of rescuers and stopped traffic with emergency signals blinking.

A young man bent over me and asked, “Are you all right?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I think my arm is broken.”

As it turned out, my arm was not broken, and I don’t seem to have been seriously hurt – although my neck and back are very sore this morning (not to mention my elbow, which is lacerated).

Looking back, there is so much to ponder.  There are all the “what-ifs,” of course. The speed limit on that four-lane road is 40 mph, but few drivers pay attention to it. The prevailing speed is around 60 mph, and the police make no attempt to enforce the 40 mph limit. What if that blond woman had been going too fast to swerve her yellow car around my supine body. What if her reflexes had not been so sharp?

Another lingering impression is how quickly everyone came to my aid, how concerned they were. A motorist stopped and blocked the lane, while I was lying helpless on the tarmac, others pulled over and ran over to help me. The Shar-Pei’s owners were contrite and eager to make it up to me. One of their teen-age sons brought me a lawn chair. Another ran out into the traffic to find what was left of my eyeglasses. The lady of the house (whose name turned out to be Katy) brought me a glass of water and walked me home when I had recovered sufficiently to walk – along with Maxi, who had somehow survived the adventure unscathed.

But the thought that lingers most is how close I came to the end, how unexpected it was, how quickly it all played out. As they say in Jamaica, “trouble never blow shell” – misfortune comes without warning. And another Jamaican saying echoes in my mind, one that leaves much to ponder:

Thank the Lord. He spared my life to see another day.