“Rear-view mirrors.” Mater, as in Tow Mater from Cars

I needed to purchase groceries, a birthday gift, vacuum cleaner bags and some OTC medicine. In the land of Walmarts and Targets this could have all been taken care of at one store. But I don’t live in that land, I live in Switzerland.

I was grumbling while on my way to my fifth store of the day. I had managed to buy everything I needed except the medication. I was looking for a topical analgesic for baby teething like benzocaine. It was for my son’s frequent mouth sores that make him miserable. Two grocery stores and one ‘drogerie’ and still nothing. I was on my way to the pharmacy–yes it is different from a drogerie–it has prescription medications in addition to OTC.

As I looked ahead I noticed an elderly couple approaching me. There was a light snowfall and the sidewalks were slick. The couple was moving slowly, he held her left arm and she walked with the aid of a cane in her right hand. Just as they were passing right behind a mini-van, no more than 2 feet, I had an alarming thought, “I hope that vehicle doesn’t back up.” Which is exactly what it started to do.

ImageLet me admit right now that I am not who you want in a sudden crisis. The power of speech eludes me, which was just as well because I still don’t speak the language. Some loud, unintelligible utterance escaped my lips as I lunged for the car. No, I was not attempting to stop it, just bang on it. Again, I already confessed to my crisis management shortcomings. The car stopped suddenly, maybe due to my noise and gesticulations, or maybe the driver finally used her rear-view mirrors.

The driver jammed on the breaks and the elderly couple were spared. Even just a bump however, would have knocked the elderly woman down and could have done serious damage.

The couple became quite animated and addressed me excitedly, <sigh> I had to invoke my overused, “Entschuldigung, Ich spreche kein Deutsch.” I touched the woman’s arm, maybe I needed the reassurance that she was alright. We exchanged smiles and I headed off to the pharmacy and left them to deal with the driver, who I hoped was apologizing profusely.

Obvious lesson learned–always check your rear-view mirrors before backing up. Deep thought of the day–maybe I was supposed to be there, at that moment, to yell at the driver so two lives were spared and another wasn’t ruined.

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