One inch.

It’s 5:00 in the evening, and I’m on my way home from downtown.  Day job is done.  I leave the office building through the rear entrance, so that I can walk down to the parking garage and get my car.

To leave the back of my building, I have to cross a very narrow street.  It’s a one-way, one-lane street that, if you did travel it, is only about 5 miles per hour, tops.  You can enter it on Green Street, and exit at South Pearl Street.

I’m on my way home.  I just leave the office building and I walk down the steps, so that I can cross the access road.

All of a sudden, I hear what sounds like a very fast car.  But the sound is coming from my right.

Sure enough, there’s a car – barreling down FROM South Pearl Street, speeding towards Green Street.  He’s going at an extremely fast speed, almost to the point where – no, not almost to the point where – he’s headed straight for me.

With all the speed that a 56-year-old man with a surgically repaired ankle can muster, I scramble back to the steps.  The car whizzes past me like he was trying to qualify for the Southern 500 at Darlington.

I scream at the guy, yelling that he went down the wrong way on a one-way street, he’s going too fast, and he almost hit me.

As he turned onto Green Street – thankfully, at least he went the correct direction on Green – he shouted out his window that I should have gotten out of his way, and added a few additional barnyard expletives in my general direction.

“That guy was an asshole,” I heard someone say.  It was a gentleman who was nearby.  “I saw the whole thing.  You had the right of way.  He could have killed you.  You were very lucky.”

I thanked that gentleman.  Thankfully, all he had to witness was a near collision and not an actual one.

But even now, at 2:00 in the morning, I’m still thinking about that near-hit.

If I had taken one additional step off the curb, there was no way I could have avoided that car.  It would have been car versus pedestrian, and unless “pedestrian” is the Incredible Hulk, car always wins.

One inch.  My life could have ended with one inch.

I’ve written in the past about my belief that our lives are protected by seven angels, that they keep us safe and shield us from harm for as long as they possibly can.  Those seven angels worked as a true team last night.

And I’m still thinking about what happened.  And why.  I posted my feelings on Facebook last night, and received a tremendous amount of support and “glad you’re okay” messages.  Which I totally appreciate.  And I tried to bring my blood pressure down from the level of TILT that it was at.

I checked my mailbox.  Bill from the Green Island Power Authority.  Thank the world for Green Island municipal power, I think I can pay this month’s electric bill with the loose change from my couch cushions.  Oh wow, here’s a postcard for Historic Albany Foundation’s BUILT charitable auction – it WILL be held in November, whether it will be at the Empire State Plaza Museum or it will be held as a virtual online auction will, of course, be determined on the strength of COVID-19 in November … oh, and they used my Nipper’s Polar Panorama as the featured image on their postcard.  Sweet.

Nipper’s Polar Panorama. Nikon D700 camera, Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 lens, multiple images stitched together in a polar panorama. (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

I’m still trying to decompress.  Even last night, I had a hard time sleeping.  My mind kept replaying the incident.  I could have died because some fuckwit drove down the wrong way on a one-way street and nearly took me out like the 7-pin of a completed spare.

In the morning, I’m going to check with the office building security and ask if they have any video footage of the incident.  Even if they do, I know that there’s no way to arrest the guy after the fact – the final result is all they would get him for is maybe reckless driving at the most, which can get plea-bargained down to parking on the pavement or something.  But I just want to see.  I want to know that I did everything I possibly could to avoid the accident, short of dumb luck and being one inch out of the way.

I’ve been through car accidents and such.  I’ve lost family members in car crashes; I’ve lost loved ones in car crashes; heck, I’ve lost loved cars in car crashes.  If you wonder why I do whatever I can behind the wheel to keep both myself and everyone else around me alive – from never drinking and driving, to paying for the most possible insurance coverage, to scrupulously having my car maintained like clockwork at my local repair shop or dealership … this is why.

I’m alive today.  This time.  Like that witness said, I got very lucky.

This time.

To all my blog readers, I say this.  Hug your loved ones, call your closest people and tell them that you care.  Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, and we only live so long as all seven angels are vigorously protecting us.