After work, I ventured to run errands downtown instead of heading back to Wicker Park, where home lures me in. I walked down Michigan Avenue to Roosevelt Road, where I filled a mini cart full of Trader Joe’s staples, which included my favorite bread, peanut butter and filling my quota of a recent obsession—their corn salsa.
With an overstuffed Whole Foods’ bag, I jumped on the 18th Street bus for two blocks up the hill to Target. (If my uncle is reading this he will scoff at the hill remark and remind me that I used to walk everywhere in San Francisco.) After Target’s florescent lights created some sort of shopping mania in me, I walked back down the hill to the train. As I stood at State and Roosevelt waiting for the crosswalk signal, a car abruptly turned right, and I remember thinking I cannot imagine someone is not walking across the street. I turned and watched a middle-aged man be hit squarely in his side by a SUV. As he lay in the middle of two lanes of a 12-lane intersection, the driver hopped out and said, “Man… Are you okay sir?” The driver was jumpy and not thinking clearly, he seemed more concerned about his car blocking traffic than a man lying in the road, and he nearly ran him over again when he tried to move his car. I stood in front of the man on the ground as the driver foolishly moved his car to the side, leaving the man exposed to three lanes of oncoming traffic going west. I was a yuppie looking character holding out my right hand while draped with Whole Foods’ bags and calling 911 on my iPhone. The man on the ground was holding his side and yelling, “I just had surgery on my appendix! I just had surgery!” As several people told him to stay on the ground (including the 911 operator in my ear), I could visibly see the fear in his face as he looked across State Street and saw a straight line of headlights and green traffic lights. He said, “I have to move.” A few people cautiously helped him to his feet; he checked his surgical bandage under his shirt to see if he was bleeding and seemed relieved that he was not. But he could barely move, it seemed that the weight of his possible new injuries had not sunk in yet. He sat down on the curb.
I decided that my crossing duties were done, and I was of little help to the small crowd that had gathered, so I headed to the train. Just inside the CTA station I ran into a pack of Chicago police officers; I told the first one I saw, ”A man was just hit at State and Roosevelt.” The officer seemed concerned, picked up his pace, then when he relayed the information to the rest of the pack, one officer said, “I wonder how the car is,” and there was a chuckle from the bunch. Oh, my city’s protect and serve team certainly needs sensitivity training.