When my North Dakotan friend and I got off the train we decided to take a cab into Greenwich Village. We got into the back of the taxi and gripped the seat as the driver tried to impress us with his erratic driving through Manhattan while asking us questions about where we were from. He turned his head to talk to us and in that moment I saw it coming. In the distance I saw the man crossing the street. He was wearing a red shirt and black jeans. He had brown hair and a mustache. He looked into the cab of the taxi the moment before impact. I will never forget that look. It was a look that was mirrored in my face, I am certain. As the cab driver turned back around the man was on the hood of the car, rolling up to meet the windshield. His body bounced off the windshield as the taxi driver screeched to a stop. He told us to stay in the car while he got out to check on the man he had just hit with his car. My friend and I sat in the back of the taxi in shock.
Somebody opened the door and offered to help us out. We looked at each other. “I don’t want to be in this car,” I said. “Neither do I,” replied my friend. So we accepted the offer. We ended up on the sidewalk where a crowd had gathered. The man was lying on the ground, not moving. I didn’t know if he was alive or dead. I heard sirens from an ambulance trying to make its way through the busy city streets. Somebody next to me said, “I’ve lived here all of my life and I’ve never seen anything like this before.” Somehow that gave me a bit of comfort. Even New Yorkers, who have “seen it all” were shocked by somebody getting hit by a car.
The cab driver found us and asked us why we got out of the car and who helped us out. We didn’t see the person who helped us. He left the scene. Because he stole all the cabbie’s money.
18 years later I would remember that look of horror on that man’s face as I watched the grill of a car drive into me and I bounced off the windshield of a Oldsmobile.