October 11, 2007

Three men and a car accident

I saw a car accident today.

Actually, I heard it. I heard the thump, then I heard a co-worker in the next room say, on a cell phone, “I gotta go. I think I should call an ambulance.”

Accidents you can hear from inside are usually pretty bad. I stepped into the next room and looked out the window through the blinds, and the other staff gathered around to gawk.

I went outside, along with Jim, the guy who was on his cell phone when it happened. We stood there on the porch of our tiny office building, shivering in the cold, watching people stumble out of their cars into 44th street. He told me “that kid has a concussion. I’m sure of it. He was lying on the grass a second ago.”

Then some other guy came out and we assumed manly-break-it-down-mode. Jim told him, too, that the kid had a concussion. Other people had switched into hero mode, joyously fleeing their cubicles to help the victims, dialing 911 as they rushed to the scene.

I have heard women complain about the manly-break-it-down-mode. This is when guys break down stuff and try to figure out what happened and why. Usually, it’s when we have nothing more to say and we want to prove how smart we are. And usually it’s something completely inane that we don’t need to know and we shouldn’t want to know. It starts with a question like, “Wonder how they mow that,” or “This is not enough bacon. Why isn’t there more bacon?” If there’s a project at hand, like, say, we need to pull a crippled ox out of a pit or something, we’ll break down every detail. (It should be noted: It’s probably a good idea never to ask a group of men for directions. Or instructions.)

Women talk about relationships, but men get to the bottom of pointless things. This is what we do. No intimacy there, just how we like it.

And so we got to the bottom of things.

There were six cars involved, I came up with that information. One guy said he kind of saw it happen. The Cadillac, he said, came up too fast and couldn’t stop. It was going 40 miles an hour, the elderly man or woman who was driving it looked down, because they probably spilled their coffee, and looked up too late and slammed into the Pontiac – that’s a Pontiac, isn’t it? Somehow, we decided, this was the reason all six got involved. No question. Some of them were facing completely opposite directions. And one of the kids, we knew, had a concussion.

We talked about it more. Then the EMTs showed up – one guy works with an ex-EMT once who wasn’t there today – and we got to talking about our jobs. Then, someone had a phone call and it was 3:00, my quitting time, before I knew it.

And so I went home.

One Love.

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