I witnessed a beautiful thing today. And for a few minutes, it may have restored my faith in humanity.
That’s not to say that my faith has been gone, but sometimes I wonder. I believe that all human beings are innately good, but sometimes I wonder. I wonder because I watch the news, because I am part of society, and because sometimes I behave badly too.
I was driving home from work tonight on the Selmon Expressway. I was in the express lane (of the expressway–funny) and was cruising along at a comfy 80 mph. I know, I know–too fast. Anyway, in the distance I saw traffic slowing and lots of brake lights. I muttered, “What the fuck now?” I was in the car for over an hour already, commuting from St Petersburg to Tampa, and finally close-ish to home. Now what? As I approached what appeared to be an accident, I saw 3 or 4 cars pulled over and parked next to the concrete median. All sorts of people were running towards one car. Women and men of different ages and races were running frantically and hopping over the median. One business-looking woman walked calmly. Another person was pulled over behind the main car, but he remained in the car with the windows up. But everyone was looking in the same general direction of this one particular car. Again, but with more concern in my voice this time, “What the fuck?” The SUV in front of me pulled over. And as if some magnet pulled me to him, I followed and I pulled over too. I don’t know why I did, but something compelled me to stop. I didn’t signal. I just slowed and pulled over. I’m sure the person behind me was pissed. Oh well.
My mind was racing. What is happening here? None of the cars have damage to them, so what is going on? People were peering into the back windows of the one car. They were beating on the windows from all sides. Oh my God–are there children in there?? Oh dear God, please not let there be children back there. Please. Then the man who pulled over in front of me opened his trunk. He pulled out this large metal object thing. He’s gonna beat the window in. Why? What’s happening inside there? Would I be horrified if I could see what they can see? In the meantime, some man was beating on the window of the car with a soda can. No luck. The man with the metal object walked calmly to the scene and started hacking at the window. Three or four whacks and he got it busted open. I heard someone shout, “I have 911 on the line.” I didn’t know what I was going to see next and my heart was racing. Again, I don’t know why I stopped. I knew I didn’t have anything to contribute to the situation, but something told me to stay.
I heard a woman saying’ “You’re ok, you’re ok.” Her voice was so calm and soothing that she convinced me, too, that we was going to be ok. It looked like people were trying to unstrap the driver or pull him out. When the people moved aside momentarily, I finally got a glimpse of the man behind the wheel. Thankfully, there were no children it the car–just him. He must have been passed out or something and unable to unlock the door himself. He was conscious when I saw him, but barely. He looked very confused and was leaning to the side. It looked like the left side of his face was red and bruised–like maybe his face smacked into the driver side window. No matter, he was alive and conscious. I breathed a sigh of relief. I may have thanked God aloud. And then my eyes welled up with tears. The crowd filled back in and I could no longer see him, and more new people were coming to the scene. No one said anything to the man who beat the window in. For some reason, though, I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. He said nothing, but I could see in his face that he felt satisfied and like his part was done. Calmly, he walked back to his SUV, put the metal thing away, got back into his vehicle and slowly pulled away.
I scanned the whole scene again, trying to figure out what happened, but I didn’t come to anything conclusive. Maybe he lost control and hit the median. Maybe he passed out at the wheel. Maybe another car rear-ended him, and I couldn’t see the car damage from where I sat. It didn’t really matter anyway. The man was all right. At that moment, my phone went off and jolted me back into reality. It was a text from Derek,”Where are you?” I turned on my blinker and got back into traffic and sped up–but not too fast. When I got my speed up to 60, I called Derek to tell him where I was. As I spoke, I felt like my heart was so full that it was spilling over.
So what I haven’t mentioned yet is the other “voice” that was swirling around inside my head as I watched this event unfold. The voice and its message is what brought me to tears. I don’t want to say it was an out of body experience because that would sound too dramatic. But it was odd and I’m not sure that I’m able to fully put it into words. As I thought and wondered about what was happening and what I was seeing, there was someone/something filling me in on the deeper events taking place. People. All of these people running to help this stranger. Perhaps this man is that ass hole on the road who tailgates and weaves in and out of the lanes. Or maybe he’s the jerk in your office who takes the last cup of coffee and doesn’t brew a new pot. Perhaps he has a family who is waiting for him and has no inkling that he’s hurt. What if he and I were rocking out to the same song on the radio at the same time? This man is someone’s son/brother/father and he is loved. Love. As I said, all of these strangers were running to his rescue. They were running to help save a man whom, until this moment, they knew nothing about. It was breath-taking and oddly captivating.
The messages were clear. Human beings, no matter how different, are bound together. We all have the same natural instinct to survive and to save ourselves from harm, and we go through great lengths to preserve our species. The human spirit is incredible in times of duress, isn’t it? The universe brought all of us together in this moment for a reason and the universe had different messages for all of us. I can’t really say what the messages were for everyone, but for me the message was of love, togetherness, reliance, and kindness, mixed with a little faith. It was supposed to happen when it did. I’ve been fighting some dark demons, as well as blissfully discovering new lights while getting closer to some of my dreams. The universe spoke and I heard it. For a split second, the sun seemed brighter, the sky bluer and the highway in front of me looked damn beautiful. I followed the law and drove the speed limit for the remainder of my journey home.