Strange how things play out sometimes.
6:10ish am. I'm sitting at Colonial and Bumby waiting for the horoscope to come on the radio (always between 6:10 and 6:15). I know the light is about to change to green, and I'm watching that too.
I think I heard it before I saw it, but I'm not sure so don't quote me. CRUNCH! and flashes of white and silver. A car resembling a cadillac and an SUV are flying through the air in the middle of the intersection. I felt nothing as the caddie hit the ground and skidded across the road directly toward me. Instead my brain instantly began a meek attempt at calculating its speed and trajectory and whether I'd be able to drive my own car away after it hit me.
The vehicle stopped a foot from my own. Just beyond it, the SUV was laying on it's passenger side. I turned on my hazards and turned off the engine, knowing I was the only barrier between oncoming traffic and them, and jumped out of my barely missed compact. The light turned green in my direction and surrounding cars started moving.
I ran to the cadillac. There were two men in it. The passenger looked at me and put his hands up, surprised, but obviously okay. The driver simply looked scared, but also alright. Then my brain went into overdrive. I ran to the SUV and looked in through the tinted windshield. The man inside was literally hanging by his seatbelt. He wasn't moving, but he was conscious.
I ran back to my car, unhooked my cellphone from my purse, and called 911 (when one is in emergency mode, one tends to forget their credit cards are in easy reach). The caddie guys were already getting out of their wreck. By the time I got back to the SUV, it was surrounded by people who had stopped to help. They'd managed to get him to unlock his driver side door and had it open. A smoky substance was billowing from within. Shit. "Don't move him!" I yelled. Something told me that smoke wasn't fire, and I was more worried about them killing him if he happened to have a fractured neck or any somesuch.
Someone had managed to get into the vehicle from the back door. He was perched behind the driver with his hand out to the fellow. I asked him to open the back passenger door to let more of the smoke out. The driver started moving. I ran around again and peered in. He had managed to loosen himself enough to get his feet in the direction of the ground and was removing the belt. "Get him out! He's moving on his own! Help him out!"
Within seconds he was out in the open, behind the SUV. He stood no taller than 5 feet, and probably weighed no more than I, a little Asian guy. He could have been anywhere between 60 and 120 years old by the look of him. Barefoot. Long pointy beard like one might imagine to be on Confucius. And as it turned out later, he spoke no English.
I demanded the two nearest men carry him to my car so he wouldn't slice his feet up trying to walk through the sea of broken glass. They complied, one on each side hoisting him up, and deposited him in the back seat. I rubbed his upper back gently, a subconscious attempt at comfort, and sent a third witness for water from the grocery on the corner (amazing how everyone jumps to move in a crisis when someone, anyone, takes the lead, even when the leader acts without thinking).
The firetrucks arrived, and then everything in the world happened in the backseat of my car. One fireman somehow managed to get through to him to extend his arm so his blood pressure could be taken. They asked him questions. "Confucius" stared and shook his head. The ambulance arrived. They decided he should go, as he appeared to have signs of difficulty with his heart. The fireman told him they'd take him to the hospital. He stared some more. A firewoman and I yelped "doctor" at him in stereo, hoping he'd understand that word, at least. He looked pained. He wanted so much to know what we said, but he didn't.
So they simply put a neckbrace on him, carefully placed him on the stretcher, strapped him in, and rolled him to the ambulance. The resident police officer kicked the caddie's headlight out of my way and let me go about my business, although he could tell I was pretty shaken up and made the suggestion I go home. Work was closer, though, as I live 40 miles outside of Orlando.
The rest of the day was uneventful, except for the death of the copier at work. Whatever. I always hated that copier anyway. But all day I still wondered. What of that poor guy, so new to this country that he didn't even know the words "hospital" or "doctor"? What was he thinking while people gathered around him, carried him around, dumped him in strangers' cars, and then carried him off in straps to some unknown destination?
I hope he wasn't more terrifed than the shock of the accident would indicate. I hope he knew we were trying to help.
I got home and there was a six pack of my favorite Asian beer, "Kirin Ichiban" (not usual) in the fridge, waiting. It might not be from whichever country the man came from, but it's a symbol nonetheless. Here's to you, Confucius. I hope you're okay.