I don’t own a car, and that’s a good thing. If I were the princess in some fairytale where an evil witch were to put a spell upon me, my curse would not be to fall in an endless sleep or to be locked in a tower guarded by some dragon. No, instead my curse would be an eternity of bad luck surrounding automobiles.
The curse took hold when I was 11 and in the Sixth Grade. It was my first year of East Grand Rapids Middle School, and I had to walk a mile to school (uphill both ways in the snow). The year previous I had been a safety captain at my elementary school. This meant that I did the schedule for and checked on all the other Fifth Grade safeties (crossing guards). It was quite the prestigious position for a 10 year-old. I had to be nominated by my teacher and demonstrate that I had a complete comprehension of traffic safety rules, a comprehension that evaporated the second I started Middle School.
I would go meet my friend Christina, who lived across busy Breton Road, and we would walk to school together. Christina would wait by her front window for me and once she saw me about to cross Breton, she would go get a banana for us to split on our way to school. Then, I would dash out into the street knowing that I had timed sprint perfectly across so that the approaching car would just miss me. Now, keep in mind that I liked to live dangerously at the age of 11, which may explain my stupidity when it came to crossing Breton Road. I did things like climb trees to the very top where the branches were the thinnest and get pulled by a bicycle on my skateboard or on my roller skates letting go just in time to careen down the steep hill of Pinecrest at about 20 miles an hour. My knees still bear the scars from injuries of these childhood exploits and my foot still bears the scar of my first run-in with a car.
I knew my timing was perfect as bolted into the street that cold November morning; however, what I didn’t count on was the car turning right onto Breton Road. Suddenly I was knocked to the ground. The wheel of the vehicle stopped just at my foot, and my sneaker came off and to this day I can see it flipping down the street in slow motion. I remember thinking that I was lucky the car hadn’t run over my foot. Frankly, I was lucky that aside from a cut on my foot I wasn’t hurt at all. Instantly the driver and the passengers of the car surrounded my while I started to cry and blubber apologies. The people helped me into their car, and one of them ran to a house to call an ambulance. It was at this point that Christina left her house to meet me. Having not seen me get hit by the car, she was convinced that I was getting kidnapped and began screaming for her mother.
Eventually all misunderstandings were sorted and the ambulance arrived. I was thoroughly checked for signs of concussion or internal bleeding, and then I was granted the wish of almost every child under the age of 12. I got to ride to school in an ambulance, going top speed, lights going and sirens blaring. Despite the speed, I knew I was still going to miss the first bell, but I had a helluva good excuse. When we arrived at school, I looked up and saw the faces of my entire homeroom plastered to the window staring down at me. I smiled and waved.
The curse went into remission for six years and didn’t show its ugly head again until I had my driver’s license. More about the continuation of this curse later.