Last Tuesday at 5:21

_44999253_puddle_512It was 5:21 last Tuesday when I careened into my new identity as That Crazy Lady. Had there been witnesses other than the immediate players, it may have warranted a short blurb in the local paper. Perhaps with a photo of the Crazy Lady and the Teenage Dog-Walker smiling, side-by-side. But the street was quite empty as I left a bewildered and bemused young woman on the sidewalk.

It started, as suburban dramas do, with a relay race between various child-related activities. After coaxing my preschooler into the car, I rumbled along at 20 miles per hour to pick up my son from karate. I had left him with cross kata and downblocks to pick up the younger child from preschool, and now we were late. Oh dear.

I sped up to 25.

That’s when I saw her. With a sweet dog snuffling into a lilac bush, a lovely girl stood patiently, white earbuds applied, watching her pup enjoy the wet smells of spring. Nice, I thought. Suburbia.

And then, disaster. With a sickening sklunshΒ of muddy water, my tire created a mini-tsunami that covered the girl in puddle. I could feel my shoulders and eyebrows arch in unison. OH NO!

The rearview mirror confirmed the worst. I saw her look down, look back, then sag in acceptance of what the fates had dealt. Crap crap crappity crap.

And then, I shrugged.Β Whatever. I mean, what could I do? Apologize? Oh sure, I’d go around the block, find the dog-walker, apologize…then what? Never mind.

But I did mind. And I did go around the block. I did find her. I parked the car ahead of her. And I didn’t think about whether or not it would be offensive as I pulled a ten dollar bill from my wallet ($5 would be too little; $20 too much). I didn’t think that her dog might growl at an unfamiliar person jogging towards her beloved person. I didn’t think; I just did.

“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry about splashing you back there. I didn’t mean to. I hit the puddle. I didn’t mean to.” I reached out and touched her arm, just below the shoulder. It was meant to show sincerity. Earnestness. I didn’t think that she might be worried that a stranger had run up babbling apologies. I kept talking. “Here, take this.” The ten dollar bill pressed into her hand.

The lovely teenager gave me a look more amused than offended. “You don’t have to pay me.” I may have noticed the first tremor of worry between her eyebrows.

“Oh, I know I know I know. It’s just that I’ve been splashed, and I know how it can ruin your day. It sucks. It really sucks. Do what you want with the cash. Keep it, give it away. Whatever.”

Her hand closed over the money with a shrug. “Okay.” A smile. “Have a good day.”

You have a good day!”Β And with that, I pranced back to my car and had a very good day.



About That Unique* Weblog

Adjusting to car culture, dealing with leaving a career I loved, and spouting off along the way. Do The Most Good.
This entry was posted in People do silly things, Suburban Life. Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to Last Tuesday at 5:21

  1. First, I laughed. So I’m sorry. I’m not even sure why I laughed. But mostly, I love that you have such a big heart. You are so kind to people and thoughtful. This is evidence of that kindness. Not that you are a crazy lady.

    • It’s totally laughable. In many cases, I would have allowed my Ego (I think it’s the Ego) to overcome the Id and stick with the shrug of “it happens to us all.” In this case, I didn’t. And it FELT REALLY GOOD!

  2. johar1 says:

    I’m glad you did what you did. That teenager now has one more example of how it makes a difference to stop and do the right thing. The story she was going to tell drastically changed because you stopped and cared enough to try and right your “wrong” even when it was much easier to continue on and avoid being late.

    • Thanks Jo! It ended up being a mostly selfish act – I hope the last line made that clear. But I do think it changed the mood of her day as well. I didn’t have space to express it in this post, but she was definitely amused and thoughtful. πŸ™‚

  3. Just paying it forward… know that gal told this story for days afterwards…and she will always remember it – and maybe one day do the same thing herself.

  4. outlawmama says:

    OOoohhh, I was so scared that this didn’t go well! I was afraid she was going to knife you. (Too much Mad Men over here.) This is a lovely post that shows what I’ve always suspected about you: lots of heart. Lots and lots of heart.

  5. anna says:

    She is going to tell this story for-evah. And she may or may not use the words crazy lady, but it will be in the nicest way possible. I love that you did this. I always do this in my head, but not in reality.

  6. mamarific says:

    I wish I lived next door to you, Awesome Crazy Lady!

  7. Too funny. Bravo for showing her how sorry you were. People realize accidents happen but it’s nice to have your inconveniences acknowledged.

  8. i love what you did. it would have made me feel so much better about what happened. I wouldn’t mind being considered the crazy lady for passing out tens. now, if you splashed and then stopped, pointed and laughed hysterically, there would be a problem. Ha!

  9. Yesterday when I was walking to work a driver careened around a corner and sprayed me with the gross, dirty water that sits right below every single curb in Manhattan when it rains. If she had jumped out, apologized and offered me $10, I probably would have been a little wary at first, but then touched that she would offer. It was a really nice thing you did, and I’m sure that the girl will be telling that story for years.

  10. nataliedeyoung says:

    I’m sorry, but I too laughed at this! I kept expecting doom, like the girl shrieking at you or the dog attacking, but nope – you are just one of those rare nice people! Well told, crazy-lady. πŸ™‚

  11. Dang. And to think that I had a guy do that to me who was driving a Wells Fargo armored vehicle. He wouldn’t even get out to apologize…

  12. This brought a smile to my face! I love what you did, how you did it and then how you told it. In some ways the exact opposite of my story this week. Life splashes all of us in one way or another.

  13. Erica M says:

    “Honey, where did you get that espresso? You been in my purse again?”

    “Nope. Some crazy lady around the corner from Starbucks.”

    “Why are your wet clothes on the bathroom floor?”

    “Some crazy lady around the corner from Starbucks.”

  14. I’m so glad you went back – stuff like that sticks with me FOREVER if I don’t do something about it.

  15. Tua says:

    I so totally badly would have wanted to watch the scene with my own eyes. Turned out just perfect for you, right. And come on, you should be taking full credit for the what you did in the post! You are the very good samaritan who got down while there would have been so many people who’d have drove on. You did a good deed and you gave the teen a good lesson. I loved your post. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you so much for the kind words. It seems a bit odd, however, to claim a good deed form a (however unintentional) bad deed! Let’s call it neutralizing the moment instead. πŸ™‚

  16. ardenrr says:

    I live in Charleston, SC where walking on a sidewalk in the rain is always treacherous territory. You hug the wall and pray that the cars slow for puddles even though they rarely do. Of the many times I have been splashed, I have never had someone come apologize for it (which although unnecessary, I still would have appreciated). Nice work! You’ll be rewarded for that one day.

  17. Larks says:

    What an awesome, thoughtful thing to do! And very well written!

  18. That made me simile, thanks.

  19. zoe says:

    going back was as important for you to let it go as it was for her….nicely done!

  20. I love that you took the time to apologize. That was very sweet and generous. If she’s short on cash, and mother nature cooperates, she might be waiting for you someday near that puddle. The second time around merits a $20, no?

  21. The Cutter says:

    It’s very good to see people display a social conscience like that. I wonder if I would have done the same.

  22. Esther says:

    How sweet!! A lovely gesture. It sounds like it made your day too πŸ™‚

  23. erin graves says:

    Ooh, loved the tension. Thought for a minute there she was going to go all Millenial teen on you!

    • That would have been a totally different story. Maybe more exciting!

      • erin graves says:

        Well it would be a different type of excitement that’s for sure! I love that you showed us a glimpse of who you are — the Crazy Lady who presses a $10 bill into the hand of a teenager you accidentally soaked (although, for the record, I don’t think you’re crazy). I don’t think she’ll forget it either. And who knows? One of these days she may end up writing up a blog post about the experience.

  24. Karen says:

    This story made me smile. It’s also very well written. I love that you actually went back to find her.

  25. Robbie says:

    Love that you did that. Love how you told the story.

  26. I’m usually the girl getting hit with the puddle. Which is to say that I have lots of weirdly hysterical, off-the-beaten path moments in my life. Just wish someone would hand me cash when they happened. Lovely way to handle the situation.

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