I watch the cars crash into each other from my front patio. I sit with a book and a drink and I wait, three floors up. The most dangerous intersection in the city is right outside my door. I didn’t know this when I moved in. I’ve been a witness to seventeen accidents so far. I have yet to offer my assistance in any official or unofficial capacity. My neighbour, who lives below me, comes out often as well, and we discuss the scene from a floor away, theorizing the events that led to the collision.
When I’m outside, waiting at the crosswalk on that street, I deliberately stand behind a metal electrical pole so that if a car swerves off the road or gets pushed off, which will inevitably happen while I’m there, I will be shielded from flying debris. As long as I remain perfectly still on the other side. If I panic and try to jump out of the way, I’ll be a goner.
Usually I only hear the accident from inside my house. I’ve heard eleven crashes so far. The tires screech, and I stop what I’m doing, anticipating the sound of metal on metal that follows. On a rare occasion, the noise doesn’t come. A defensive driver saves the day. There’s no need to exchange information, apologize or deride the other driver.
For some unknown and terrible reason, on the weekend the outside two lanes lose their thoroughfare status and become designated for parking.
A car pulls out of the spot in which it was parked, the driver evidently neglecting to check the rear view mirror for oncoming traffic. She must get in these “accidents” all the time. The car in motion does not have enough time to avoid her error, and so the man driving it hit the fender, enough to bend it and require a discussion, at least. The man is calm, first asking the woman and her passenger if they are unscathed, which it turns out they are. He’s annoyed and wants her to know it, but overall it appears this one would produce nothing of note.
The car behind his, however, is now unable to pass him, so he beeps his horn, urging the offenders out of the way soon. The man in the accident was saving his rage on this guy. As soon as he heas the horn, he rushes back to the origin of the sound and slams on the windshield several times with his hand. “Get the fuck out of your car. Let’s do this.” The situation escalates in no time. The beeper, now slinking back into his seat, intending for his weak stance to elicit enough pity to end the confrontation, is mistaken. He’d forgotten to lock his door, and the aggressor pounces on this, opening it for him and dragging his frail body onto the street. I sip on a lemonade as the skirmish continues.