The Other Day...

December 27, 2007
By Meagan Roper, Fort Meade, MD

The other day as I was walking down the street, I saw a man walk into the road and get hit by a car. At first I thought I was having a bad dream, but I pinched myself and knew it was real. I watched in horror as the driver pulled over and got out of the car. It was a teenage girl, and she was pale as a ghost. Other people on the street began crowding around to see if the man was okay. I’m a little squeamish myself, so I didn’t want a very close look, but I could tell by the frightened sobs of the teenage driver that it was bad.

I stood by as an ambulance responded within a few minutes. Uniformed paramedics pushed the crowd back away from the man, who lay unconscious on the asphalt. I watched as the medics checked his vitals and prepared a pair of paddles to shock him back into life in case the worst had happened. The paramedic stooping over the lifeless man gave a signal and two other men moved in with the paddles. They zapped him once, twice, three times, and nothing happened.

By now, the police had arrived and an officer was trying to control the crowd that had grown into a mob. A couple dozen cars were stopped behind the teenager’s, and their drivers had joined the crowd to see what was going on. Another officer was trying to calm the teenage driver, who was standing wide-eyed and hyperventilating. The paramedic again checked the man for life, then stood up and announced the time of death. The teenage girl burst into sobs. I saw the paramedics cover the body with a sheet, carry it on a stretcher, and load it onto the ambulance.

In a short time most of the crowd was gone, and police were redirecting traffic around the girl’s stopped car. An officer had soothed the driver into the passenger seat of a patrol car. Other officers were gathering statements from witnesses or taking pictures of the incidents. The offending car was towed away and most of the patrol cars were gone before I left the scene. When I got home that night, I went about my regular routine, watching TV, eating dinner, and going to bed. But I couldn’t sleep. That man had been walking across the street, just like every day, and his life had ended all of a sudden. How would his family respond? Did he have a family? Who would miss him? And then I put myself in that situation. What if that had been me? Would people miss me if I died suddenly? Had I made a difference? I was startled to realize that I couldn’t answer these questions. Even if the death of that man made no other difference, it made me reconsider the significance of my life, and to question whether I was living it to the fullest.

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