To The Tall Twerp I Almost Ran Over
I don’t know your name and can only make a logical guess at your age given that you are a Crescenta Valley High student. But your smug face and stupidly reckless actions are hard to forget. You are tall, with an average build and longish, blondish hair that you probably love to flip away from your eyes with great disdain at anyone without your level of awesomeness.
You probably didn’t give a second thought to our little encounter two weeks ago, so I’ll refresh your memory. That Tuesday, on a typical late summer afternoon, long after most of your CV classmates had gone home, you and a handful of your friends were on the sidewalk in front of school, just above the auditorium. As I drove down Ramsdell Avenue, I noticed your group walking, laughing, joking around and happy to be finished with classes for the day.
Almost at the same moment as your group was about to step off the sidewalk and onto Ramsdell (nowhere near a crosswalk, of course) you all noticed my vehicle heading towards you. Everybody stopped in their tracks and didn’t step off the curb. Except you. You saw me coming. There was no way you didn’t. Your friends all yelled at you to stop. But you kept walking without a hitch in your swagger. And so, dripping with cool and staring straight ahead, you walked across the street and directly in front of my oncoming 11,800-pound pickup truck.
I thought of so many things within the milliseconds that followed. That you were an idiot, of course, but also that you were somebody’s son. Maybe someone’s brother. As my right foot stomped on the brake and I straight-armed the horn button, my staccato thoughts continued – that this was likely going to be really bad, was going to ruin your school year at the very least and holy crow what will happen to my insurance rates and how ironic will it be to see a news story about this tragedy in the same paper that publishes this column and what could this chucklehead be thinking playing chicken with an oncoming truck?!?
But here’s the thing, even coming within inches of getting hit – even with my horn blaring at you for a full minute at least – even with your friends screaming from the sidewalk and me yelling things out my open window that I would never want my pastor to hear – even then; you didn’t flinch, didn’t slow down, didn’t so much as glance my way.
Your “I’m so badass I can’t possibly be hit” smirk didn’t falter. You weren’t listening to music; no cords dangled from your ears. Most likely, you were listening to some inner narcissistic soundtrack that continuously affirms your greatness. In your mind, you walk on water, I’m sure.
Maybe your friends or a teacher who saw what almost happened that day ripped you a new one after I drove on. I hope so. But I’m pretty sure you would ignore them as easily as you ignored my blaring horn and screeching tires. (Was it just your dumb luck or mine that I’d had new tires installed literally the day before? I wonder.)
Enjoy this season while it lasts, buddy. There’s a big (way bigger than you), hard reality waiting for you beyond the insular bubble of high school life. The next time you pull some stunt like that, the person behind the wheel may not be paying such close attention to his or her surroundings. Or he may be changing the music on the stereo. Or, God forbid, doing something even more potentially lethal, like texting as he careens towards your foolish, arrogant little self.
Dude, it’s going to take many years for you to grow up and learn that you’re not nearly as invincible (or cool) as you think. I only hope you stay alive long enough for that to happen. I’ll see you ‘round town.