I Nearly Killed Someone Tonight. Then I May Have Saved Her Life….

I am still furious about this, and it happened more than 90 minutes ago. Fortunately, I’m not David Banner.

I was returning at dusk from a grocery errand, and as I reached our secluded North Virginia neighborhood, I stopped at the STOP sign at a side street, then took the tight turn onto a main drag. Exactly as I did that, a young jogger whipped around the same corner, in the street. I had to swerve to miss her.There are no sidewalks in that part of the road complex,…which only means that it is an irresponsible place to jog.

I was just a few blocks from home and almost proceeded directly to my house. But she really scared me, and the woman appeared oblivious to how close she came to being clipped. Then my father’s ghost kicked in: I was with him several times when he chased people down for the sole purpose of telling them they were idiots and why.

So I drove around looking for the jogger. She had a potentially deadly habit, other than jogging, and I had an obligation to warn her.

It took me a while, but I found the woman, still blithely jogging, reveling in her youth, beauty, and immortality. I pulled up next to her with my window open, and called out, “Hey! You nearly got yourself killed back there. Did you even notice? If you are going to run, use sidewalks, or be damn sure if you’re on the street that you can be seen in plenty of time by drivers, like me. You came around that corner without looking or slowing down, at dusk, wearing dark clothes, and it’s just luck that I didn’t hit you. The street is mine when I’m driving, Your carelessness could have gotten you killed, and then I would have to live with the the consequences. You’re an idiot.”

I had to say that. For Dad.

I was angry, and allowed myself to look and sound angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

“All right! All right!” she said. “I’ll never do it again!”

“Good!” I said, and drove away.

I was so ticked off I managed to get turned around and got lost in my own neighborhood. But if she gets herself killed the next time, or crippled, or sustains a closed head injury that leaves her a drooling vegetable, at least she was warned.

48 thoughts on “I Nearly Killed Someone Tonight. Then I May Have Saved Her Life….

  1. It takes a village to raise a responsible adult.

    This was a safety issue and you did what was necessary and within reason to educate her and possibly save her life the next time she runs.

    Good for you!

    • Sorry Steve. That village stuff is so annoying to me, I never say it in any context. My only response is, “No, it takes two responsible adults to raise a child.” Hillary, like BLM, is intent upon destroying the nuclear family.

      • Other Bill wrote, “That village stuff is so annoying to me, I never say it in any context.”

        You’re welcome to your opinion.

        Related rhetorical question: when you see a person, whether it’s an adult or a child, doing something dangerous like blindly walking into moving traffic or sticking their finger in an electrical outlet or riding their pedal powered tricycle in rush hour traffic or eating a Tide Pod, etc, do you feel any sort of human obligation to say something to prevent injury?

        • Hillary’s book was indeed a coded call to communal society, which is what a substantial segment of the Democratic party seem to advocate. Society doesn’t raise a child, but all members of it have an ethical obligation to model society’s standards for children, theirs and everyone else’s.

        • Steve, I had the extremely good fortune to be raised by my two wonderful, married, in-residence, working father and largely stay at home when she wasn’t volunteering mother, parents in a really neat Catholic Parish. Our mother had my dad build the house within easy bicycling distance from the Catholic Church and Grade School. All the parents were wonderful examples for all of us. They all kept an eye on us and an eye out for us. They were middle class but prosperous: a banker who’d flown for the Marines in the Battle of Midway, a lawyer who worked in Child Protective Services for the City of Miami, the owner of a drugstore in a neighborhood that has long since gone to hell, a professional photographer, a couple of pro baseball management “base ball men,” a cop or two, a service station owner (and let’s not forget the drunk down the block). Anyway, they all took care of their own kids and had dinner together every night, but also did good things for their neighbors’ kids (led cub scout and boy scouts). It was an extended family of sorts and all those men were role models. But it was the family that was the sine qua non and it was my parents that set me on my way. Even if we’d lived in the worst neighborhood in town, it would still have been my parents that determined who my brother and I would become. A “village” is no substitute for two loving, present parents. When I see “village,” I see red, in more metaphorical ways than one.


          • Other Bill wrote, “A ‘village’ is no substitute for two loving, present parents.”

            I think you’re extrapolating the intent of the statement to absurdity. I certainly don’t mean the village is a substitute for the parents. In fact anyone that thinks that and goes off on one of those free range parenting rants will get an ear full from me – and they have.

            This, “All the parents were wonderful examples for all of us. They all kept an eye on us and an eye out for us.” is exactly what I’m talking about when I say “it takes a village”. It’s others in the village that reinforce the standards set by society regardless of the parenting skills of the parents. The same holds true for other adults that need action or attitude adjustments in society. Be part of the village or engage in apathy and the village as a whole will suffer the consequences.

  2. I can just hear people’s gray matter squishing around as they think “but, but, pedestrians have the right of way.” Not so fast, brainiacs. Every state has laws preventing pedestrians from randomly being in the roadway. Therefore, if there is a pedestrian — and runners are pedestrians — randomly in the roadway, a driver is indeed fully obligated to attempt to not hit the idiot. However, one can curse them out (if that’s your thing) because in most states they are themselves breaking a law. In that case, if an accident can’t be prevented due to a pedestrian’s actions, the pedestrian is fully at fault and the driver should not be held responsible. But hey, with the vicissitudes of civil lawsuits, who knows?

    • Plus when a vehicle that weighs a ton or more gets in a crash with a pedestrian or a bicycle the vehicle never loses the pedestrian or bicyclist ALWAYS looses.

      I told more than one of these people that their rights won’t stop the vehicle from hitting them, they just get dead and destroyed the life of the driver too.

    • If insurance companies thought long term this kind of thing would become less of a problem. When it is cheaper to give a pedestrian claiming injury money to go away others learn that a minor bump an bruise could be worth a quick 10 grand.

      A 100 of those cases is a million bucks but they only see each case as a one off.

    • Michael, runners and joggers and cyclists and pedestrians are morally superior to benighted car drivers. As a result, they are above the law and invulnerable to criticism and physical injury.

  3. People have been taught that motor vehicles must yield to them whether they are on bikes or foot. I sometimes think they purposely put themselves in harms way to win in the lawsuit lottery.

  4. Good job.

    I have a related question for you. I live in an apartment complex and was out walking my dog when I saw a huge dog running around out front of our apartment complex. I then saw the owner who was trying to get the dog to follow him. The dog had a leash but the owner wasn’t holding on to it. My dog and his dog had a little standoff, staring at each other down the street. I felt like I had to wait for the owner and the dog to wander away before we could enter back into the building.

    The dog did seem cheerful but definitely did not listen to the owner on call. He took some coaxing to get him to follow. Our building has tons of dog owners who take their dogs in that same area. I was so mad at this person that I went back out looking for this guy. I told him he should leash his dog and that it’s illegal to let his dog roam around without a leash. He didn’t like that. Was my comment ethical on my part or should I mind my business? He said that his dog is a sweetheart and that little dogs are more of a concern (ie, more aggressive.) Should I have given him the benefit of the doubt? I somewhat feel bad for lashing out but part of me also resents feeling bad.

    • I also meant to add that apparently this dog ran across the street another time and cornered an older lady and her two small dogs.Supposedly the big dog just wanted to play and didn’t hurt anyone, but I heard that the older lady was screaming and was scared. I can’t verify this story however.

      • If the dog had a leash but the owner wasn’t holding onto it, it’s possible that he WAS holding on to it prior to your encounter, but the dog managed to yank it out of his hand and get away. If the dog is big and prone to being excitable, then this kind of innocent accident seems all the more likely.

        So I’d think that a little benefit of the doubt is in order. He was trying to coax his dog to come back to him too (albeit unsuccessfully) which suggests to me that it wasn’t on purpose that his dog was off-leash.


        • Thanks for the response. When I was talking to him he said he lets his dog off leash but will grab the leash if someone complains. I think he just lets his dog run around and the leash is used as needed.

  5. You were lucky twice, Jack. Once was the fact that you did not hit this woman, which we already established would have been bad news. The second time was that she did not respond aggressively to your berating her. She might have just told you to go screw yourself, but she might have had a gun also, and then what? You also better hope that she doesn’t have a crazy husband or boyfriend who she will relate everything including your license plate number to, who will then come find you and mess you up.

  6. “Can’t go through life worrying about who might be crazy. Can’t be intimidated. Life’s not worth living like that.”

    Amen! I don’t drive nearly so much as before I retired, but as a law enforcement officer I was always dismayed by, and often stopped to warn or lecture, (a) people who were walking or running on the incorrect side of the road where there were no sidewalks, or people on the street at night wearing dark clothing, (b) folks riding bicycles on the street but flagrantly disregarding lane usage laws or traffic controls like stop signs or stop lights, and (c) cyclists who ride on the sidewalk when there is a designated bike path. Amazingly, many of those I chided were seemingly oblivious to the safety concerns I was attempting to address. Sometimes the reaction was hostile, which on occasion resulted in the issuance of a citation to further emphasize my point. Like I said, I’m not out on the roads as much as I used to be, but this past Spring, on my way home from an evening meeting, I rounded a curve to find a young man in dark clothing and walking on the wrong side of the road. I turned around, passed him and pulled over, and as he came alongside my truck I lowered the window and told him that he was nearly impossible to see, and that he was walking on the wrong side of the road to boot. He started on a long explanation of his situation, but I told him I was a retired cop who just wanted to see him get home safely. I asked him if he had on a lighter colored shirt under the dark hoodie he was wearing. He replied that he did, and got the message that he should reverse the layers. He immediately did that, and he thanked me before resuming his walk. Who knows, maybe I saved his life. Trying to ensure the safety of people who seem to care so little for that safety can be taxing, but I always considered it my duty and to an extent still do. My wife disagrees and disapproves of my interactions like these, but at age 66 I am what I am. Once a Deputy, always a Deputy!

    • I applaud your actions as a LEO, that’s something more of them should do more often, but only do in the small towns in NJ. Anyone who chooses to get attitude with a LEO deserves whatever consequences fall on him/her. I remember thinking to myself how remarkably restrained an NYPD officer was being with someone he wouldn’t let jump a barricade on St. Patrick’s Day who was yelling at him and cursing him out. I think he’d have been fully justified in using force (as it was a superior came over, escorted this guy across the street, and told him to get off 5th Avenue, the parade was over for him). However, as a private citizen who doesn’t have a gun and arrest authority and who isn’t a big football player kind of guy, I’ve usually found discretion to be the better part of valor. You just don’t know what people will do, or who’s on drugs, or who’s got a raging temper, or who’s related to who or married to who who’s going to come looking for revenge later. In light of the latest incident in St. Louis, in which the cops told that couple they were on their own, it’s that much wiser to keep your head down if you possibly can.

  7. From the other side…

    My experience, as a year round outdoor runner (sometimes in the predawn darkness) and always acutely aware of my surroundings, is a little different.

    Many, many, many times I’ve been nearly hit by distracted drivers, a couple of times I’ve been grazed, and one knocked @$$ over tipcups.

    The gal looked at me roll off her front passenger side quarter-panel at a stop sign she deemed a mere suggestion, looked the other way for traffic (thumbs up!), and proceeded.

    Had I not been otherwise occupied, (praying road/air friction [drag] would slow my chaotic…um…motion) I’d have gotten her plate number and sued the living $#!t out of her sorry @$$.

    Now; Scofflaw BIKIES….

    • I think that’s the same side, though. Last week, a cyclist whom I had been watching carefully and who looked like he was in the old school, ride to the far right, habit, without warning or a signal veered into the center of my lane, right in front of me. I honked the hell out of him. About a second of inattention from me there, and I would have hit him. A cyclist cannot do thing like that, assuming a motorist is ready for it. Again that epitaph my father used to recite: “He was right, dead right, as he sped along, but he’s just as dead as if he were wrong…”

  8. Outrage exists as an emotion and therefore is neither ethical nor unethical. Whether and how we act when outraged certainly involves ethics.
    The narcissistic aspect of outrage brings ethics front and center. A dearly beloved relative, for example, litters her Facebook timeline every day with at least a few of the *terrible things* our president does or says, and she often expresses her outrage at how horrible he is. The obvious conclusion, sometimes written out, is, “He is an idiot.” The complete thought, with the second part universally omitted, is, “He is an idiot, and I am not.” I once told her that she was going out of her way to find things to be outraged about and that she must get some enjoyment out of being outraged. Not surprisingly, she was briefly outraged at me for pointing out the obvious.
    All of this is leading up to my opinion that it was wrong to call the jogger an idiot. Driving around to find her, subsequently losing your way home, and then seething for 90 minutes (or more) shows that emotion, not reason, was in control. There’s nothing wrong with giving her the advice to be more careful where she jogs and to make herself more visible, although, from your description, it doesn’t sound like it was friendly advice. Still, that would have been enough. Going on to call her an idiot, based on a chance, one-time encounter, is a bit much.

    • Sounds like your relative is in line to be dropped or blocked, and left off family invite lists until she bridles it. I’d almost say being angry is like being in love – when two people are in love it often seems to them that nothing in the world matters more than the two of them, and when someone’s angry it seems like nothing matters more than that anger. Well, I’ve sneered at plenty of adoring couples, especially post-wedding, when they’re just one more married couple among millions and it hasn’t sunk in that there’s nothing so special about them after all. Maybe more enraged people need to be told that they aren’t that important, and their anger isn’t that important, so put a sock in it, already.

      • Your best comment ever, Steve. You’re not only a gentleman and a scholar, you’re an astute observer of human behavior. And succinct!

      • Anger has valid uses; that’s why it’s an evolved human reflex. What Johnny’s relative is engaging in is obsession. That’s what I see on Facebook, every day. That’s not legitimate anger; it’s self-indulgence. Anger is not meant to be a constant state of mind. I’m very seldom angry (though I deliberately write angrily on occasion.) But an absence of anger leads to complacency and apathy.

    • People who behave like idiots need to be told. If they are not, they keep behaving like idiots. I’ve referred to the President as an idiot, because he does idiotic things too often. If he paid attention to the accusation, and why he gets it, he’d do fewer idiotic things. It’s a diagnosis. If I have heart disease, I want to be told,

      My anger almost led me to ignore my duty to explain to the jogger what she did. My knee-jerk, emotional response was “Fine, let her get hit.” I had to show my anger because I wanted to make sure I made an impression that she would not forget.

      I got lost because I have no sense of direction. I’m from Boston.

      • I got lost because I have no sense of direction. I’m from Boston.

        Okay, I’m up from rolling around on the floor now. I feel better. I guess it explains Mrs. OB who was born in the greater Summahvl/Ahlington metroplex. But she also has a condition where she has a really hard time differentiating left from right, which doesn’t help either. She has a problem with binary choices. Other than with anything I say (which is always simply WRONG).

  9. I agree that focused anger can be very effective, and I’m sure you made a strong impact on her. I also agree that idiotic behavior should not be overlooked. My point had to do with the difference between “That was idiotic”, which was apparent, and “You’re an idiot”, which can be inferred, but maybe should not be from one incident.

    • I agree that the distinction between “that was idiotic” and “You’re an idiot!” is material, and should be observed. In this case, I didn’t, and should have.

      Throughout 2105 and 2016, I really was convinced that Trump was an idiot, so that’s what I wrote. I know think he isn’t an idiot, but that he does an amazing number of idiotic things for a non-idiot.

      I suspect historians will be trying to figure him out forever.

      • OTOH, if it was dark clothing, and on the wrong side of the street, and earbuds blasting away, maybe there was enough evidence. 😉

        • No earbuds, though I wasn’t sure until I tracked her down. I would not complain if jogging with earbuds was made illegal. What IS the right side of the street now? It used to be with the traffic; she was running against the traffic, but I think that’s the norm now.

          • My understanding has always been that against traffic is better, since it’s easier to see cars coming toward you than behind.

  10. Jack,

    From her perspective, a creepy bald man in a car encountered her jogging alone at night, proceeded to spend the next several minutes cruising the neighborhood looking for her, and then yelled at her in the middle of the street about a perceived slight. She likely acquiesced out of fear of you rather than agreeing with you. You even go out of your way to mention her youth and relative attractiveness when referencing her cavalier attitude. Imagine how this might read to a lot of women who jog.

    What’s more, you used to steadfastly state that you never (or seldom) wrote angry. Yet, you begin the article by admitting your own emotional bias before immediately assigning blame.

    Ethicist, recuse thyself.

    • Nope.

      1) I’m not creepy. That’s an insult without evidence.
      2) She didn’t know that I was looking for her—she didn’t even appear to see my car when I nearly made her a statistic.
      3) Did you not read the post, or not understand it? (I can send you the “Ethics Alarms for Dummies version if you like.) I never said there was any “slight.” She nearly got herself injured or killed because she was being outrageously careless and stupid.
      4) You weren’t there, I was. She appeared embarrassed, not frightened. What could I do to her, a runner, from my front seat in my car?
      5.) Explain how, while reprimanding and warning her, my recognition of the eternal misconception of the young and beautiful to assume that they live a charmed life and are immortal, thus frequently getting them assaulted or killed, was going to be communicated to her under those circumstances. I relayed my speech pretty accurately: this would be a relevant comment if I said I had said, “Hey, girly, you’re much too cute to end up as my car’s hood ornament!” But I didn’t. This feature may make this the most Neilish comment yet.
      6.) I don’t care what contrived offense a female jogger takes at what I write here. They have the same freedom as you do, to try to justify their objection, and I will tell them that a man noting that a jogger is female and attractive is normal, ethical, and fair.

      • Jack,

        Since “Neilish” comments usually boil down to “consider how this action might appear/read to someone else”, I’ll consider that a compliment. However, I used imprecise language and for that I apologize.

        I didn’t mean to suggest you were creepy, or that she knew you had followed her, or any of that; only that it could appear that way to someone not willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. Imagine you’re a young, attractive, moderate, young woman who sometimes jogs (and has faced harassment from men doing so). Such a person, stumbling across this site for the first time and reading your story, would likely see you as the aggressive asshole. You didn’t HAVE to do anything including chasing her down for several minutes (in anger). What if she had said “fuck you!”? Would you, in your heightened emotional state, have continued to confront her in a supposedly ethical manner intended to save her life. Moreover, “saving her life” involved calling her an idiot in the process — the kind of personal attack you often deride. What if she had carried a weapon, misunderstood your intent, and opened fire? What if you’d run someone else or an animal in the process? You said yourself you were so angry you got lost in your own neighborhood. The fact that nothing worse happened is moral luck.

        You’re right, I wasn’t there, which is why I’ve passed no judgement about your intent. But, your response to the events do not read like those of someone concerned with the golden rule, or avoiding unnecessary confrontation. Lastly, I mainly offered an opinion as to how your story could read to others, at a time when you complain about an exodus of readers.

        I value and cherish your insight, but the language you use often makes it hard to agree with you. It reminds me of something my father said years ago about Ann Coulter: her rhetoric made him feel icky.. Similar rhetoric is why I stopped sharing your articles on Facebook long before the ban. You make little effort to appeal to anyone outside your ever-shrinking choir. You’ve called me “liberal” in numerous occasions, despite my holding more “conservative” views than you on numerous issues, simply because we butt-heads.

        • The Golden Rule: If I do something really stupid and potentially destructive that I might do again and appear to be oblivious, I want some one who witnesses it to let me know, directly, in the most memorable way possible.

            • How do you figure? That’s literally what the Golden Rule means: treat others the way you want to be treated. It’s not one of the Golden Rule distortions. It’s a perfect example OF the Golden Rule in practice.

              • “The Golden Rule asks you to consider how another party would feel if you treat him or her a certain way, by placing yourself in his belief system with his sensitivities, experiences and needs.”

                Since you would be okay with someone speaking to you in such a manner in that situation, you assume she should be okay with it as well. I understand that for you, the necessity of warning her about a dangerous situation warranted what would otherwise be uncivil behavior, but she might not have seen it that way. If a stranger talked to ME that way, even in that kind of circumstance, I would deeply resent it, even if I understood the reason behind it. If someone I knew talked to me that way (especially with the “idiot” label), I would be re-evaluating whatever relationship I had with them. I had a similar thing happen to me when I almost hit someone I didn’t immediately see crossing the road when I was making a right-hand turn. All I did was roll down my window and call out, “I almost hit you!” as I passed by. No lecture, no chasing down, no name-calling (and in retrospect, I could’ve been looking harder when making that turn anyway).

                • 1. The Golden Rule does not require us to be mind-readers. It is ethical to assume a stranger deserves the benefit of the doubt.
                  2. Will she eventually appreciate what I told her? I don’t know. I gave her the chance, which is what I would want.
                  3. You’re the one fabricating a distortion of the GR: Do unto others as you expect the most unreasonable jerk you can imagine would want done unto them.”
                  4. Nope. She was running on the street, at dusk, in dark clothing, and took a left turn, sharply, around the corner where I was taking a right turn, sharply. I had no time to react to her, because she appeared the second after I started the turn, out of nowhere. Her dark clothing and dusk were immaterial in this sase, because she was on the street and without mad luck, would have been clipped if she was dressed in neon and it was high noon.
                  5. As should be clear, it could have shouted “I almost hit you” at the time, I would have, and that would have ended the incident. But she, as I believe I have emphasized, didn’t even see my car, or at least didn’t react. So she kept running in the opposite direction where my car was headed, so my choice was to go around the block and try to find her to tell her what happened, or to let her get killed by someone else.
                  6. I made the right choice, and I’d do it again.
                  7. In fact, you make me want to track her down again, and explain just how idiotic and reckless she was. Or tell her that if she does that again, I’ll be watching, and then she’ll hear what I’m like when I’m really angry. She put my life at risk because she was oblivious and self-absorbed. I’m not going to let that go, and nobody who does that will get away with it without consequences. All in all, she got off lightly.

  11. I almost stopped the other day to tell a runner that they could not be seen.

    Here’s my take on the situation I encountered: for the runner in question, his view of the road, the setting sun behind him, what he sees in front of him was not what I was seeing in front of me (setting sun square in my face, a glaring windshield, don’t see runner until I’m within feet of him.). I didn’t blame the runner. He wasn’t being reckless. But his assumption was that what he saw, all of oncoming traffic saw.

    I still feel guilty about the fact that I didn’t stop. I should have pulled over and said “Hey!!! Dude! NO ONE can see you. The sun is setting and this is a horrible time of day to be running on this road in this direction. Please get off the road!”

    I had a responsibility, not to raise a village, but to look out for an individual who crossed my path at a moment in time.

    • That was pretty restrained. Too often instead of “hey dude” it’s “hey, stupid” or “hey, asshole.” Whether or not the insult fits, it’s a lot more likely to piss the other person off before you get to the real point of your message. I remember an early epi of NYPD Blue in which Dennis Franz’ grouchy, often-drunk Detective Andy Sipowicz gets involved in a minor auto accident. The other driver calls him an asshole, and he proceeds to get up on the hood and attack the other guy’s car, trying to kick in the windshield and yelling “I’m an asshole! I’M AN ASSHOLE!”

      • Much Ado About Nothing: “But, masters, remember that I am an ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass.”

  12. Not that you’re not making very good sense but there is one thing more. I have had at least two “essential” trips per week taking two or more buses to different parts of the city for the last five months. I don’t know what it’s been like in your areas, but in my urban araea, the traffic began thinning out by the middle of March and by mid-April had turned most side streets almost empty. At the same time, I began to see more walkers, joggers and runners out on the roads, many of them with headphones. It was not only the easiest, cheapest, and safest exercise but it was the best stress reliever for those who had been cooped up studying or working at home or taking care of children or elders, or had bad cases of cabin fever . They sorted themselves out according to speed: slowest kept all the way to the right … but the runners ran right down the middle of the street and stayed there when at a stop sign or red light where they could be clearly seen, They made square-corner turns. Most had strips or vests of hi-viz material on or over their clothing. I even saw a skate-boarders’ “club” one evening with reflecting tape from head to toe and headlamps flashing fore and aft – thirty or forty of them riding the hills . Eerie. One of my neighbors who takes long walks late at night, says he sees them out at least once a week. Where there is significant traffic, they’ll bunch up at a light but stretch out in a thin line when it changes. He brought up the fact that he’d seen police cars go right by them without a glance, and I remembered it was the same situation with the runners. They had worked out a way to do take the streets safely and without complaints from drivers. As he put it: They work off their shit without screaming and breaking windows and stealing stuff. I’m thinking it’s a prime example of peer pressure working out for the best.

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