Home > Travels > On Getting Hit By a Car

On Getting Hit By a Car

Though not sexy at all, St. Louis was the first stop of our road trip phase of world tour, a bustling nine days of catching up and hanging out with many fantastic people.

First things first: I’m totally fine.  As I write this my shoulder is a little stiff and it’ll be a few nights before I sleep on my right side, but my friend Katie the MD has given me an excellent prognosis, explaining in terms I barely understood and am less able to recall how nothing is broken, everything will heal, and I would do well to enjoy a little ibuprofen now and again in the coming days.

It happened while I was biking across the city of St. Louis1 to meet friends out for pizza and go see The Avengers.  As I crossed Grand Avenue at Magnolia in the pedestrian walkway while having a green light, an oncoming car made a right turn on to Grand right into me.

I don’t know if this is characteristic of all being-hit-by-a-car instances, but for mine there was this 2 second window in which you know that the hit is going to happen, and there is nothing you can do about it.  A time during which your thoughts are “Oh-crap-she’s-not-seeing-me-she’s-headed-right-for-me-this-is-totally-happening.”  Well, you get those thoughts rattled off in your head in a fraction of second (because thoughts are really fast like that),  which leaves you with like 1.7 seconds left to express yourself while catastrophe is imminent.

I choose to fill my 1.7 seconds with profanity.  Loud, unabashed, you-rarely-get-the-chance-to-swear-in-public-quite-like-this profanity.  I think at the time it was my hope against hope that it would be heard to make my presence known and stave off disaster.

As I rolled on to the hood of that red Eagle Talon convertible I knew it didn’t work, but the uncertain motion of collision suddenly ended and thus my need to pontificate on the worst and/or tuck-and-roll protocol was suddenly gone.

I got up and in a flash pondered in earnest curiosity: so how is one supposed to act right now?  All pissed off?  Sheepishly cool and walk it off?  Get all legal and demand insurance papers?  Find humor and grace in that it could have been much worse?  The last option seemed most fitting as I was gratefully still able to walk with no substantial pain.

“Are you alright?” the 40-something red headed woman yelled out from her car.  “Um… yeah, I think so–a little stiff here and there…”  I don’t remember exactly what I said next, I recall gesturing her ahead to pull over so we could talk.

That’s when she drove off.  Which was a little bitchy of her, methinks2.  But in fairness, I reckon within the looseness of my dazed, unclear communication she would somewhat understandably glom on to an interpretation of my words in which I were suggesting I was fine and she should just go on about her day.

Thankfully though help came right in the car behind her in that fateful turn lane.  A lovely woman yelled out “We saw the whole thing, are you ok?  Do you need any help or a ride?”  Turned out my bike was not in riding condition at this point, so my answer was yes, a ride would be fantastic.  It was then my great pleasure make the acquaintance of Ana and Richard, a nice pair of professors from SLU whose car had an ample trunk for stowing my huge-framed bike.  No doubt noting the foot-plus I had on her, Ana was even kind enough to offer me up the front passenger seat.

Surprisingly clear-headed thinking reminded me of a bike service shop on the south end of the park about a mile away, so that’s where I asked to be taken.  Once there they were kind enough to help me get the bike out and walk me over to the shop to be certain that I get well on my way.  Turns out the shop is closed on Sundays, at which point I asked: “Might you possibly do me one more favor and take me to the Central West End?”  With immediate bike service out of the question catching up with my friends was the next best thing.

Like the awesome people they were there was no hesitation to grant my bike and I a second ride.  We got to talking about travel on our way and I had the rare chance to practice my French with them–lovely folks for sure.  Just a few blocks shy of our destination I noticed the car dash clock read 3:56.  “Hey, I don’t know if you guys are big on irony, but thanks to you I’m going to be right on time to meet my friends for 4pm pizza!”

From there we parted company with a hearty handshake, I being super grateful.  Their help made a rough situation way way less burdensome, and following the drive off of my unwitting vehicular assailant they did swiftly rekindle my love for and faith in humanity.

In the end all was well enough: a few bruises and a stiff shoulder marked the entirety of my battle damage, and $390 for new tires and crankshaft has my bike back in working order.  For my swiftness to forgive and forget, and willingness to say things like “Man, if one had to get the “Get hit by a car” item crossed off the list of things to do before you die, it couldn’t have gone better!”, I’m told I’m being a little too light hearted about it3.  Even Tracy I think was more upset about me getting hit by a car than I was (can’t blame her–after all, her property did get injured).  And while I delight in the poetry being laid down by friends who would be my avenging angels (words like “She’ll get hers in karma”, “Oh my god, I would so mess her up–driving off after hitting my boy like that, nah-uh!” and my personal favorite, “I’ll shank a bitch”), I think any attempts of exacting vengeance, even cash for my bike fixin’, would be super draining and not worth it.

In the end, we’re just two people whose paths crossed unfortunately and we made a little mark and experience in each others lives.  She’s alright in my book, stuff happens.  I think I’d be content as far as justice is concerned to know that I left a tidy little John-sized dent in the hood of her car.  Really either way is good with me.


  1. This is my preferred mode of transportation in my last home town: for some reason biking 5-10 miles in 95 degree heat between meetings with friends there just agrees with me.
  2. I’m also told it’s a felony.  Who knew!
  3. My favorite is hearing that I’m being “very John about the whole thing”, which suggests my optimist street cred is getting pretty high.
Categories: Travels Tags:


  1. Phil
    June 7th, 2012 at 14:24 | #1

    Wait…Saint Louis isn’t sexy “at all?” Not even a little bit? A smidgen?

    • John
      June 7th, 2012 at 14:38 | #2

      Well, umm… yeah, I’ll level with you to say that I think it’s totally sexy. But, you know, just acknowledging popular perception for better or worse.

  2. June 7th, 2012 at 15:06 | #3

    Man, sorry to hear about that car thing. Off to the adventure that awaits you!

  3. Phil
    June 7th, 2012 at 15:09 | #4

    Fair enough. I was just worried that if this what you think BEFORE you begin your World Tour, your estimation of the city is going to get even worse after visiting so many exotic locales. @John

  1. June 3rd, 2012 at 08:05 | #1