Today’s WordPress one-word prompt is: Urgent
Back many years ago when I was still working, I was driving to work early on a Saturday morning. The veterinary clinic I worked at was about 25 minutes from my house and on Saturdays we opened at 8 am. I recall it was about 7:30 in the morning and I was about at the halfway point of my commute. The highway I was on was a fairly busy highway most of the time except for 7:30 on a Saturday morning. The highway was fairly desolate that morning with only a few straggling cars.
I drove over a bridge that goes over a river. Just ahead on the left was a small hospital. I was on a divided highway with a broad grassy median strip in the middle. Though the picture below is not of the actual highway where this occurred, it was very similar.
As I was getting closer to the hospital, I noticed at first what I was pretty sure was a man sprawled out in the median. He was mostly on his back with his head facing my direction and clearly visible to anyone who passed. It was just him. There were no other people around and no stopped cars. There was not an emergency vehicle in sight. My mind raced back to a time back in the mid 1970s when I was in high school and had gone on a school related trip to Mexico City. And how while on that trip, in the early afternoons, everywhere we went, I kept seeing all these men just lying around in the medians, most with hats pulled down over their faces. This was very strange to me and I finally asked what was going on. The bus driver explained to us that the men were taking their siestas. Okaaaay. But here in the United States, you just don’t see men lying in busy highway medians.
I slowed down as I approached the man lying in the median and took a closer look. And then I knew. I just knew. He did not move and I could tell just from his appearance that he was no longer among the living. The skin color on his face was a grayish cyanotic blue and he had a white gauzy bandage wrapped around his forehead and I could clearly see dark red blood which had oozed through the bandage. I was close enough that I could tell he was not breathing. An occasional car would pass on each side of the highway but no one was stopping! These were the days before cell phones and quite honestly, I felt a strong sense of urgency but didn’t quite know what I should do. What had happened? Was it safe for me to stop? I thought about getting out and checking his pulse but I clearly knew it was too late for that. My instinct was to drive on a little further, and stop at the hospital to have them call the police. As I was coming to a rolling stop directly across from the body, I was never so relieved to see flashing blue lights approaching on the other side of the highway and a single slowing police car pulling over. I watched as the police officer got out of his car (he had no sense of urgency about him which told me he knew too). He walked towards the body and waved me on.
I got to work a little dazed and told my coworkers what I had just seen. Their questions were all the same. Was I sure the man was dead? Yes, I was sure and I had no doubt about it.
That night I watched the news. I had hoped that a dead man laying in the highway median of a small town community would make the news and it did (these days I am not so sure). Apparently, the man had been in a domestic dispute the night before with his wife and got into some sort of physical altercation with her. He was taken to the ER where his head wound was cleaned, sutured and bandaged. He was advised to stay for medical observation in case of possible concussion, but the man left AMA sometime after midnight and started walking towards home. He was involved in a hit-and-run. I guess through some good detective work, they found the car that had hit him parked at an apartment not far from there (the deceased man’s blood and tissue were still on the front of the badly damaged car). The person who hit him said he remembers feeling a bump but never saw the man and never knew what he had hit and obviously didn’t go back to investigate. They suspected the hit-and-run driver had been drinking at the time. I never heard anything more about it. But I always wondered how many people had passed by and how many people saw what I saw. I know one thing. It shook me to my core.