We would like to make the point here that we are a pretty normal person.
Others may doubt this, but we will prove it by saying that, just after a yellow cab going 30 miles per hour made contact with our left knee and we went flying into the ambient air above 6th aenue, we found ourselves think Well, this is going to put a hell of a crimp in the day's schedule.
And, by God, we could not have been more right.
You know how it is. You have a day without any appointments, and you don't have to show up at your place of work. Therefor you make a little schedule in your head: a few hours of work at the library, a few more re-writing that important memo for Mr. Renfrew at the Gobstopper Corporation, and then a quick trip over to Verizon to buy a new phone.
Well, the new phone was in our pocket and we were trotting along wondering if Papyrus would have business card stock or was it all stationary, and how many people used stationary these days anyway, when we came to the intersection of 6th avenue and 20th street, and, having the light with us, we cross the avenue.
A cab began turning out of 20th street, as they so often will. We sped up a little because you never can tell.
Unfortunately, so did the cab.
And the next thing was that thought about our schedule, about how this was something serious, this wasn't just ducking out of the way at the last minute or something to tell as a story; this was serious.
We realized this once we had hit the pavement on our back, rolled over onto our side, and lifted ourself up on our elbow to bellow at the cabbie You hold it right there, you stupid son of a bitch, you're going to give me all your insurance information and...
No, no, is for police, you tell police, I no stay here, I have passenger! yelled the cabbie, as if that made sense, and we were about to respond when another voice rang out:
Stay where you are! Don't move!! And a kind-looking lady of about our age moved out of the crowd at the corner and put her bag under our head. In New York terms this was such an overwhelming gesture of self-sacrifice than we actually started crying. Also we were beginning to get the first pain messages from our lower limbs.
Don't move. Don't move. Oh don't cry! Don't worry! We're getting this guy's information! We're getting a cop!
Don't let him get away, we said. He's gonna try to get away. Don't let him. then, in an undertone. I don't have health insurance.
Who does? But don't you worry. This is a no-fault state. It's all on the cabbie.
Was it my fault? Did you see?
It was him. We all saw. We're telling the cop.
Thank God. Thank you.
It wasn't that we couldn't move our head. Our left leg was a mess but we already knew our neck was okay, our pelvis, our spine. We've always had a horror of paralysis, nerve damage. We couldn't quite believe how confident we were in our own wholeness, but it did seem like we were okay.
Okay sweetheart, how you doin? What's your name? How old are you? We're gonna put the collar on you, okay? And here's the backboard. Okay, we're gonna move you. And...over...
The collar is every bit as uncomfortable as you might think. We say My stuff? My bag? Little leather bag? Please? and someone finds it and puts it in our hand. Now somehow we feel connected again, switched on, part of the pulse. We're pretty sure we'll walk out of this and that we can identify ourself and pay for a cab home. We are not comforted yet but we can see the next few hours and it seems okay.
We say, Are you the EMTs and someone says No Ma'am, FDNY and we say too bad, you're all probably so cute and we can't even see you! and it gets the usual laugh. We still can't see anything but sky out of our left eye and pavement out of our right. It is amazingly clean, for being in the middle of Sixth Avenue.
At one point we think we feel hot air ruffling the crown of our head and a few voices bellowing at each other: Naw, she can't move! She's bin in a accident can't you see that ya damn fool? Naw, she can't get out of your goddam way you got to goddam drive around her jerk can't you see? Oh yeah, well back atcha dumbell, what you think!
It is the good old lullaby of the city and we begin to wonder what John Dos Passos would have done in our place.
Then we remember that the city was a much harder place in our youth. Our Dad always felt that if you got hit by a cab in the middle of the city it was your own damn fault and the passersby were allowed to pick over your remains and get what they could from you, which would eventually include assorted acts of necrophilia. Our Dad was sometimes a very depressing guy.
Then there are a bunch more rough voices and someone says Ma'am? Where were you hit? and we say Sixth Avenue and Twentieth Street and we giggle a little and pass out.