5.25.2008

Head hung low

This morning I was driving to work, and I passed through a school zone. It was just about time for the school zone to be over, and the crosswalks were deserted. As the light turned green, I noticed someone up ahead, walking across the busy street in a haphazard way. As I got closer, I saw that it was a kid. And what do you know, he dropped everything in his arms, right in the middle of the street. Papers flying, folders falling, and the case of a band instrument lying on the ground. His backpack knocked him in the head when he bent over for his things.
Up ahead, I saw a car approaching. And not really slowing down. I started to cringe. The kid was scrambling and papers were going everywhere. My heart was pounding, and I pulled over, intent on running out to help him, or call 911 if he got hit.
At the last instant, it seems the half-assed driver saw the kid, and swerved. My heart stopped. But, in that split second, things slowed down. I saw the kid barely glance up at the car, with his hair in his eyes, his backpack practically on his head, and I noticed two things: first his shoulders dropped, like he was defeated; then, I saw a brief flicker in his eyes, like 'I dare you', before the fear blew out his eyelids, and he dove for the median as the car swerved.
I sat there for a second, with my heart in my throat. I was frozen. Then, I watched as he picked up his remaining papers, shoved them in his backpack, and wandered up to the sidewalk.
I rolled my window down, and meant to ask him if he was okay. Nothing came out. I realized that if I were him, and that had just happened to me, I would not want anyone to say they saw it happen. I would not be able to keep my cool, and talk to some stupid stranger about it.
So, I said nothing, and drove on my way.
The look in his eye got me thinking about this:

Once, I was driving down 35, towards Waco, to visit a couple of kiddos on my caseload. On this portion of the highway, there isn't a thing to the left or the right of the road, other than farmland. It's pretty flat too, so I was able to see a couple of miles ahead of me.
As I drove, I began to notice a figure walking down the center line on the other side of the highway. As I got closer, I saw that cars were swerving around it. When I realized what it was, I slammed on my brakes.
A big, shaggy dog, with matted fur, was walking down the middle of the highway. Like he had a death wish. His head was hung low, meandering in and out of the lines.
There were no other cars around me, so I slowed down significantly, several options firing and mis-firing in my head at once. I could stop and call him, but what if he walks in front of a car and ets hit? I could yell at him to 'go on', and hope he walked to the shoulder.
In the end, I did nothing but watch. A big 18 wheeler came along and barely missed him. All of that matted fur was whipped around as it passed him, and he didn't even look up.
Again, I was frozen, with my heart in my throat.
I went along my way, thinking about that damn dog the entire day.
How did it get there?
Who did it belong to? There are hardly any houses along the highway; just little farmhouses set wayyyy back off the road.
What the hell was he thinking about when he decided to walk down the highway like that?

On my way back home, several hours later, I scoured the sides of the highway for him. I also looked for tufts of fur, in case he actually got hit.....
I never saw him, but I still think of him on occasion. For I too, have felt so blah that I just walk with my head hung low, watching my feet move, one in front of the other, rather than look up, and see what I'm walking towards.

2 comments:

Misty said...

It's a sad thing to witness a child, or animal, an adult, so beaten down that they don't care, that they care not if they live or die. I was that kid, for years..... It's really hard to know just what to do. But one thing that I have learned is, LOVE conquers ALL. Period.

Miss Grace said...

The last time I saw a dog like that, I saw it get hit by the car the behind me. I still think about it all the time.