The last few days we filmed a presentation of the completed curriculum before a group of Kiwi teens at a downtown Auckland church. I ordered an Uber to deliver me to the shoot. The driver, an Indian gentleman, was pleasantly friendly and an enjoyable conversationalist.
His car was a nice Prius and NZ drivers are situated on the “other” side of the car. I was sitting in the rear seat, sitting close and diagonal to my driver. As we got in the middle of the bustling downtown, we started to make a left hand turn. What happened next happened in an absolute flash, but in slow motion.
As we began our turn, a blur appeared in my left peripheral vision. Then a helmeted head exploded through the front passenger window, right in front of my face. That whole window shattered into a hurricane of glass, assaulting my driver. As quick as that blur slammed into the side of the car and the head blasted through the window, it was gone from view, rocketing back and downward.
The driver stopped the car on a dime post-impact. I was in shock and the drive was rightfully freaking out. We hit a bike messenger. He was flying one second. Then he wasn’t. In this slow-motion instant, I remember wondering if I wanted to look back and check on the bike messenger or not see a horrid sight I might not ever get out of my head.
In that split second, before I could even turn my head, the bike messenger was up and his head shoved back in the window. Rather than the sound of shattering glass and impact, he was sharing his choice and colorful thoughts about my driver’s navigational ability with great conviction. I patted my friend on the shoulder and told him it was alright. It was just a accident and the victim appeared more than fine. Actually, more lively than he had probably been in some time.
Uberman turned around and said to me quite firmly, “Get out, get out! Go. You go!” Not angry, but definite. Feeling he had enough on this hands, I gathered my things, exited the car and started to walk away. I had two thoughts.
What did it look like, someone just getting out of a car involved in a substantial accident and walking away. Second, where was I relative to where I needed to be? Again, I figured my dilemma was nothing compared to my driver’s. So I headed to the curb and saw my destination a half a block down. The film crew met me in the parking lot and asked how I was. Still shaking, I told them the story, pointing to the mangled bike in the street and the driver and cyclist engaged.
Creamed a bike messenger my first time in New Zealand. I won’t forget that. I’ve thought of the outcome of the two men many times since. Oh, and I gave the driver a very positive Uber review and didn’t mention the incident. I wanted him to have a great feeling of grace and relief when he checked his review for that fare.