I almost stopped blogging the other day.
I was waiting at a red light in the right turn lane. I was somewhat distracted, because I had been trying to plug a USB device into the stereo at the previous stoplights. To my right was an older woman pedestrian. It was that moment at which all the signals are red and no one is moving. I looked left and took my foot off the brake. Just then, the cars to the left leaped off the line. I quickly pressed back on the brake, hard. I looked ahead, and standing in front of my right fender was a kid with wires around his head. I assume he was listening to a portable device. He looked at me as if to say, "Hey! I'm walking here!" I was shocked. I reached out my hand to him and mouthed the words, "I'm sorry!" He must have seen the surprise in my face, because his looked softened and he nodded as he crossed in front of me.
Here's the scary thing. I didn't stop because he was crossing in front of me; I stopped because I decided not to jump out in front of the cars coming from my left.
I never saw him. That's what I would have been telling everyone later. If I had decided to go, I would have gunned it before I saw him, which means I would have run him over or knocked him aside. Either way, it would have been very bad. Life for both of us would have changed dramatically. I probably would not be writing this right now and if I were it would be subsantially different.
I'm not that old for chrissakes. I still think I can handle an automobile competenty, more than competently. It was a silly mistake, not looking in the direction you are moving the car. As a driver my age in the US, it's the kind of thing you should learn by the time you're twenty. I actually had a physical demonstration of this lesson once before. In my late twenties, I was rolling forward, looking left when I came to an abrupt stop against the bumper of the car ahead of me. There was no visible damage and the other driver was kind and forgiving. Which was extra good, because I was driving a company vehicle.
The other thing I thought of was, if I had been the kid, there was no way I would step in front of a car without at least being able to see the driver's eyes and quite possibly not until I had made eye contact. But that's just me and my years of riding bicycles in the city.
I didn't hit him mostly because I'm not the kind of person who will jump out in front of oncoming cars, even if I could pull it off, but it definitely put The Fear into me for a while.