Dear People Turning Right,
You probably don’t remember me—then, again, maybe you do. You looked startled to see me. Actually, you looked equal parts startled and horrified and, traditionally, one doesn’t so quickly forget such a traumatic moment.
It was Saturday morning. I was wearing white, knee-high compression socks and a purple Nike hat. (Although some might call it lilac.) You were at the corner of Big Bend and Hiawatha, driving a red Volvo with a dent in the passenger-side front door. As I ran toward you, I debated whether your misfortune stemmed from a deer or a runaway shopping cart, but really, aren’t both just the worst? I don’t know where you were headed, though if I had to guess, I’d wager Home Depot. It was a Saturday morning after all, and if there’s one thing I know about Saturday mornings, it’s that people love to exhaust them at hardware stores.
At any rate, after a while, my attention shifted from the dented door to the back of your head. I got a good look at it, too, since you never turned to look in the direction in which you were about to steer your 2-ton automobile. Still—silly me!—I assumed your head would swivel correspondingly with your front tires, and when it didn’t, I nearly lost both hamstrings in an attempt to stop just as you floored the gas pedal. Now, I know you had no idea that I was even in the bi-state area, much less within arm’s length of your car, as evidenced by the extent to which your eyes were bulging and the expression of horror that overwhelmed your face when you finally did see me. Please let me clarify that it was not my intent to scare you, nor do I begrudge your turning right. In fact, I often turn right myself. And, normally, I wouldn’t say anything. It’s just that I’m training for a marathon, and training has gone really, really well, and I’d hate for all that work to go to waste just because I weigh significantly less than a Volvo.
And, you see, this isn’t the first time. No, I don’t mean you specifically (although it is a small world and one never can be too sure!), but I can’t tell you on how many different occasions I have nearly been snuffed out by someone turning right. A few weeks ago, it was a white pickup truck. The week before that, a Prius. The week before that, it was my friend Don, who desired to travel west on Clayton Road and nearly drove the passenger-side headlamp of his 1998 Toyota Forerunner directly into my midsection. Awkward.
Just a couple of months ago, Jake, my good running buddy and coach, was bowled over by a vehicle making a right turn. He was only a few minutes into his run when a four-door sedan decided to abandon its post at the stop sign and turn right just as he was crossing the intersection. The driver never saw Jake, but he heard him as he clipped Jake’s back leg and sent him tumbling across the pavement.
Thankfully, aside from a broken Garmin 310 and a sore hip and elbow, Jake was okay. The driver was apologetic and, once all the insurance mumbo-jumbo was worked out, he paid for a new Garmin. Now, I don’t want to be melodramatic, but I think we can all agree that it could have been much worse.
Perhaps I’m getting cynical with old age, but I feel that right-turn offenses are more prevalent than ever. One might even say they’re endemic. Thus, I felt the need to say something. Originally, I was going to post the incidents as independent episodes on Missed Connections—obviously, not everyone drives a red Volvo—but there were too many and, quite frankly, I just don’t have that kind of time. Instead, I thought a letter in the spirit of a public service announcement would be the most efficient method for all parties involved.
P.S. I no longer wonder how you got the dent in your passenger-side front door.