I was cruising to university from my flat (located behind the Chinese version of Walmart) – the sun was shining, my faux Ray-Bans were in place, and I was almost feeling happy.
I like to imagine that the fat pompous man (or FPM, for sake of space) was also en route to some decent destination or at least a cold beer with 2% alcohol. In fact, I am sure the destination of FPM was very important, with multiple cold beers, a lovey lady, and noodles, since FPM was too distracted thinking ‘coldbeerladynoodles’ to notice that he ran a red light. Or maybe he just was a very bad driver who thought that, by running a red light, surely the faux-Ray-Ban-sporting lady on her bike would magically disappear from the center of the road and just be one of those things one imagines one sees when en route to ‘coldbeernoodlesladies’.
What FPM lacked in imagination was made up for by a unique ability to aim the front of his car directly into me on my bike. This resulted in me flying forward, my bike going right, and my arm flinging itself out to catch me with a loud pop – the kind of pop that says “you wont be climbing for at least a month”.
All this really caused FPM to do was finally stop his car (red lights be damned), slowly heft his bulk (too many carbs kills the waistline) out the door and stand yelling at the policewomen and me. From my advantageous position sprawled on the pavement, this seemed comical and rather unfair, as I like a good fight, especially when, due to my arm being completely unmovable and numb, I could potentially fling my dead arm in the general direction of FPM’s face. Alas, while I was still too much in shock to stand up, I was not too much in shock to note that my faux Ray-Bans were still on, there was no blood, I could still cuss, and my phone (ironically enough) was still intact in my shorts pocket.
Apparently being in shock also makes me a belligerent ass (sometimes too much whisky does that too) since I yelled, “No, no, no, you stupid asshole, I had the right of way and you ran the dam red light, f— you,” several times with variations on the cussing. This finally got their attention, since the policewoman bent down to ask if I was okay and hurt and if I could move. I responded “yes” to all three questions while the FPM went to look at his poor dented license plate frame. Deciding it was time to stand, I gracefully rose with several spastic wavings of arms, wobbly knees, stumbles, and more creative cursing. I hadn’t cried yet, but my arm had just started to hurt, causing me to give FPM the most evil look possible while yelling (again) “Stop lying, you asshole, you were running a red light! It’s not my fault you cant drive, so shut up – I’m the one hurt here”.
This was fascinating to the student population, since by this time, traffic had slowed, rubber necking was in full swing, and at least ten people gathered to watch. Most were either picking their nose, or teeth, or both. I snapped at the policewoman to stop asking me questions (Who needs an ambulance? Pfffffft, not me!), and let me call my roommates for help. Rather passé and incredulous about the whole thing she ‘tsked’ me and called an ambulance.
I kept growling at FPM, who also picked his nose (is it stress or boredom?) and made dramatic gestures at my bike and his car – which puzzled me since I’m not sure that really accomplished anything beyond giving him the first bit of exercise he’s had in years.
Still in shock, I had to call Abby two times to give her correct directions, since my first call ended up being rather short and unhelpful: “I had an accident, a car hit me on my bike, I’m at that intersection near campus”. A few seconds later realizing that those were awful directions, I called her back and gave directions using proper ‘rights’ and ‘lefts’. Emily arrived, then Abby, then the ambulance, and finally I began to cry.
This scared FPM who then looked as though he was about to vomit. Being self centered, with tears and snot running down my face, I thought about how it would have been great to tell people, and that particular lover (who told me I cried too much), that I had been tear free. Alas, the tears carry on, through the ten-minute ambulance ride, the wait in a wretched smelling emergency room, the one bottle of warm coke, and on through two vomiting ladies and the harshness of seeing one woman covered in blood on a stretcher. Eventually, the tears stopped for the x-rays and prescription writing, and seemed in no danger of returning.
The police station smelled as bad as the hospital and had fewer windows. Abby, Emily, and I were hoping we get a ride in a police car to round out the day after the ambulance. No such luck, but in a small smoky room, we, along with Cecelia and FPM, (who has switched to picking his teeth) are treated to watch the surveillance video of me getting hit. Three times, and once in slow motion for good measure. I fought panic and a nearly uncountable urge to laugh as we all collectively winced at the impact moment.
There was much yelling, more hand gestures, numbers scribbled on paper, sitting on saggy couches, and having Abby translate the rapid-fire debate about who is more at fault.
After a bit, the three of us were still sitting on the saggy couch, the fan was wobbly, we were exhausted, the excitement had gone, the pain in my arm had increased, it was hot and sticky in the room, there was a smashed spider crumpled on the floor and we were imagining what the policemen were saying. We talked about spiders, Chinese food and how my gimpy arm was perfect for a pirate or zombie costume for Halloween. We talked about Emily’s dad, my rock climbing man, and Abby’s previous teaching in China. I am sure we talked about many other more interesting things, but finally – out of sheer exhaustion – the bike, the car, and FPM were settled.
Unfortunately, my request for the accident video was not granted, nor was my request for the x-rays. I was planning to add both to my collection (growing more extensive by the year) of ‘medical records of not dying whilst in foreign countries’.
The hidden, derelict and marginalized attract her; with a desire for adrenaline rushes and a love of heights, Colleen MacDonald has photographed everything from abandoned highrises in Detroit to Particle Colliders in Russia. With an eye for portraits, a belief that everyone has a story, and a love of drains, she has been wandering through foreign countries since 2007. Accused of being a spy, a prostitute and a missionary; having repelled down elevator shafts, been caught up in political protests and nearly arrested, she has developed a fearless approch to photography seeking out the moments both violent and peaceful that give life meaning.