The Soapbox: 1-2-3 Red Light, Text!

As someone who is on the road for more hours per week than those in which I am   standing still, I have a so-called Golden Rule of Driving that I proudly model for the watchful eyes of an 11-year old, who will become a driver in just five short years–yikes!!

The Rule:  No Texting While Driving. It’s as simple as that.  I just don’t do it.   Even when I am alone.

However, there is a reason I have renamed red lights “Facebook Stops.”  Red lights are where I do my best Tweeting, craft my most eloquent emails, and create silly video messages I can text to my family in seconds!  But when the light turns green, all status updates are on hold until, alas, the next red light.

So, as this story goes, one fine sunny day I’m just going about my business.  Hair and clothes completely ironed.  Feeling mighty fine.  All of the aboves of my life were completely in check.

I’m sitting still, first in queue at a red light of a major intersection where traffic flows in four directions.  I had been cataloging two or three action items I needed to handle at this red light.  While waiting for the light to turn green, I got somewhat lost in a text message to a business associate.  It was an important text.  I was doing my best to fit it all in and hit send when I suddenly heard the most awful noise you can imagine and I knew instantly it could have only been one thing—the sound of cars crashing around me.

I stopped my texting mid-sentence and looked up while little ‘ol me was sitting unscathed in the midst of what seemed like a war zone.  Every other car that had previously been sitting first in queue was wrecked.  I had seen enough of the accident to realize that the car in the traffic lane coming toward me had run a red light and broadsided the crossing traffic, propelling it in my direction.  There is no logical reason why I wasn’t hit.

After a five second delay that seemed like an eternity, the car doors of the witnesses to the accident began to slowly open.  What we had to deal with, no one really knew, but there was a sense of caution toward being hit by any further oncoming traffic.  There WAS no further oncoming traffic.  There was a stillness devoid of peace. 

When I stepped out of my car, the first door of one of the victims opened and an elderly woman that I’ve now coined as my little old lady stepped out. The silence was finally broken by her aged voice.

“I tried not to hit her,” she said as she described how another vehicle had run the red light and forced her to hit someone, as if I hadn’t seen it.

After she mustered up the courage to speak those words, she began to wobble around and grab her chest.  My cautious walking toward her became a sprint.  By then, additional bystanders began to provide first aid to the other victims as someone else dialed 9-1-1.

When I got to my little old lady, I was unaware of how my instincts would kick in, but I am here to tell you that every First Aid class I’ve ever taken came back to me in seconds.  I had no idea, but that training really does work!  I had my little old lady sit down and tried to soothe her while getting some personal information from her.  I noticed her blood on the ground much sooner than she did.

After a while, she asked me, “I wonder where all that blood is coming from??” and I reassured her when I let her know that it was only a cut on her arm.  She continued to grab her chest and told me that she had a Pacemaker and was having chest pains.  Now let me just admit that this is the part where I thought long and hard about just going ahead and inwardly panicking.  I’ll explain.

The very notion that a girl like me might run into the scene of an accident would be completely and utterly absurd to my close friends who remember me having to put my head down during First Aid class every time the instructor even mentioned the word laceration.  Do all first aid instructors just like to say that word as many times as possible?  Laceration.  They probably have pets named Incision, Fracture, and, my personal favorite, Dislocation.  Here Frostbite!  Here Splint!! I just love you!! Good boy!

Based upon some of the instructors I remember, I think they might actually enjoy one more legitimate reason to let those favorite terms roll off the tongue as if they like other peoples’ pain.  I’d rather take Advanced Calculus than First Aid any day of the week!  So, THIS is the person giving my little old lady First Aid when she says MY CHEST HURTS AND, OH BY THE WAY, I HAVE A PACEMAKER!!

Dear Reader, you will be proud to know that I suppressed my inward desire to completely freak out.  After all, it’s not really that big of a deal.  My Paramedic friends do this every day of the week and save tons of lives.  Right?!

At that point, my little old lady was laying down and I began to ask for help from other bystanders. 

She’s bleeding, does anyone have a towel?  Sir can you please move my car out of traffic flow? The engine is still running.  Thank you.  Would you hold my purse?  Here are the keys of my little old lady’s car.

A kind bystander with an LSU towel became my right hand helper.  Now that I had faced my fear of lacerations head on, I wouldn’t have surprised myself by inquiring of him, “Scalpel, please!” Oh my poor little old lady!  She didn’t know what she was getting into.  Once I experienced that sense of helping her, I became reacquainted with a monster I know all too well!!  My son would concur.

He frequently reminds me…Mom, the only people that should cut my hair are those that have degrees in hair cutting!  And he truly despises the sick days where “Dr. Mama” is going to take care of him.  Give me that nose; so, I see that you have what appears to be a nasal impetigo on both nares.  Here is a Q-Tip with Muprocin that will treat the infection.  Now let me check your ears. Yep, my little old lady brought out THAT  monster.  Dr. Mama.  She can take care of practically ANYTHING!

Once the first responders arrived, I gave them my account of the accident, though I couldn’t really give a full account since I had been texting at the initial point of impact.  All I know is that that another victim was NOT TEXTING AT THE RED LIGHT and had the wherewithal to steer her car away from my little old lady who had been launched in her direction like a ball bearing in a pinball machine.  She was alert enough to avoid being seriously hurt, though her vehicle did receive some minimal damage.  On the other hand, had my little old lady been propelled in my direction, I would have never known what hit me since I wasn’t fully alert behind the wheel of a parked car near moving traffic.

So the first responders did what they do best and it was time for me to say goodbye to my little old lady.  I hated to let her go.  What do you do in a situation like this?  Certainly not, “Here’s my card, call me sometimes.” So I just gave her the last encouraging words that came to mind–words that I felt deeply prompted to say.  Then I backed away and looked around.  I didn’t even know where my car or my keys were, but I finally saw it a block away where the kind bystander had parked it. 

Still somewhat shaken up by the surreal experience, I sat in the driver’s seat, cranked the engine and noticed my phone in the passenger seat with the oh so important unfinished text message.  I completed the sentence and hit SEND just before looking up to see my little old lady being wheeled away on a stretcher.  I prayed that she would be okay.

When I recanted the story to
a close friend later that evening, we both realized that the kind bystander who had moved my car was actually another close friend of his that he had previously been inclined to introduce to me, but the opportunity had never presented itself.  Instead, we met by “accident” as we both served as Good Samaritans for a brief moment while offering the best of human kindness. 

In honor of my experience with my little old lady, I’m changing my Golden Rule of Driving.  So here it is…

No Texting While at the Wheel, Even at Red Lights and Never Make Fun of First Aid Instructors. I’ll call it My Little Old Lady Rule and my new friend and I will remember her from this day forward because when ever we get in the driver’s seat, there is so much more at stake than a perfectly good LSU towel.

Read Brandi’s column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper. Follow Brandi on Twitter @BrandiChambless

Brandi Chambless
Read Brandi's column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

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