As soon as the green light ahead illuminated, I pulled partway into the intersection, waiting my turn behind a large city bus, the driver of which was waiting his turn for a gap in the oncoming traffic.
Noah was sitting in the passenger seat, paying no attention whatsoever to anything other than his giant stack of wearing Pokemon cards. Occasionally he would hold a couple of them high in my face and insist I choose a personal favorite. It was cute when he first started asking my opinion (months before). Now it was just annoying, but I’d never tell him that. Pokemon cards are serious business for him.
A big gap in oncoming traffic appeared, plenty wide enough for even the slowest bus to get through. The driver didn’t take it. Come on, man, I thought to myself, wondering why he had hesitated. Some of us have places to be!
A large SUV came to a stop a few feet behind me. A train track separated us. Again the bus driver hesitated and didn’t take a big gap in the traffic. We both just sat like dummies, the bus firmly in the intersection, and me halfway-in behind it.
The light eventually changed to yellow.
The bus driver didn’t creep forward at all.
He hesitated, waiting for what seemed like an eternity to what exactly? I’m not sure. Maybe to insure himself that the oncoming traffic was indeed going to stop? “Holy crap, go!” I said aloud this time.
The cross-traffic was far busier than the traffic on our street: four lanes of downtown drivers, anxious to make their way home for the night on one of the busiest downtown streets.
The bus driver still hesitated even after the light turned red. The oncoming traffic had definitely halted, clearing the way for us to get the heck out of the intersection.
“GO!” I screamed as the cross-traffic entered the intersection, creeping, waiting for the bus to get the heck out of their way.
The bus driver finally woke up and finally made his turn.
Traffic immediately started flowing after it, swerving around us instead of allowing me to follow the bus on through. My child and I were stuck with our nose in harm’s way.
I don’t usually use such expletives in front of my child. Only when we are in immediate danger. Which we were.
Cars were narrowly missing us, dodging us as they realized the front of our car was hanging partway into their lane.
I put our car into reverse, hoping to buy at least a few more inches of headroom until the lights changed again. The SUV behind me sat planted, and I got as close as I could without hitting it. The driver honked, as if it would help the situation. It hadn’t. Cars were still swerving slightly and now whizzing-by in a steady high-speed stream.
A big square warning light in front of us glowed bright white above, illuminating a picture of a train. I looked over to my left. A downtown train had just come over the hill and was headed directly toward us. I looked at the tracks. The rear of our car was now parked squarely on top of them.
“FUCK, FUCK, FUCK.” I definitely don’t use those types of expletives in front of my kid, like, ever. But I certainly did this time.
I couldn’t pull forward. Traffic was too thick and too fast. I couldn’t turn in either direction for the same reasons. I couldn’t move back any further. “MOVE!” I yelled at the SUV driver behind me, as I instinctively put the gear shifter into reverse. The lady just sat, unawares and uncaring, it seemed, to our current life or death situation.
That’s when there was a soft whack: the sound of wood tapping against glass. The large railroad crossing arm had lowered, landing on our back windshield. “MOVE, MOVE, MOVE!”
The train was some 400 feet away now.