Today I witnessed inhumanity at its most ugly. Human compassion, sympathy, empathy, sadness — I observed a women who embodied the opposite of all these things.
I was walking to work this morning near the intersection of 14th Avenue and Pennsylvania Street in Denver’s notorious Capitol Hill when I heard the screeching of tires and a sickening thud. I knew right away it wasn’t a vehicle-on-vehicle crash, that a motorist must have hit a pedestrian or cyclist. By the time I got there, there was already at least two other people on-scene helping the victim and the driver. I read about hit-and-runs all the time in Denver but, here, now, it was quickly determined that the driver did not want to move her vehicle until police arrived. She even took photos of the vehicle and its position in the street.
I rushed over to see what was going on, and though I didn’t see what happened, I knew it was something bad. Clearly the driver had struck a pedestrian, but it was not clear who was at fault. All I could see from my position was the leg of the woman who had been struck, down on the ground near the back driver’s-side tire. All I could think was “Oh God, please don’t be a child! Please don’t be a child!” Turns out it was a woman (I can’t rightly guess her age), and it seemed — outwardly, at least — that she was not severely injured. But she was limping, and her nose was dripping blood. She was crying hysterically, trying to call someone on her phone. By this point, the police had already been called. Like I said, I don’t know if the driver was at fault or if this woman was not paying attention and simply walking into the street without looking. But here’s where it gets real ugly.
Naturally, on Denver side streets, what with parking on both sides of narrow thoroughfares, it gets congested. Especially when there’s an accident. In the middle of the road. Another driver pulls up, and is clearly eager to get through. “Are you gonna move out of the way?” she says to the motorist. A nice man who was helping at the scene calmly told her, look, someone just got hit by a car. She can’t move the car until police arrive. “Well, can’t you just back up a little bit, so I can get through?” she says. And then she starts to get really impatient.
“Come on! Move the car, I got shit to do!” she says.
“Well, at least you didn’t get hit by a car,” the man tells her.
Without even acknowledging the woman crouched down on the sidewalk, crying, she says “Yeah, and I also didn’t hit somebody because I know how to fuckin’ drive!”
“Just back out of here,” the man says, remaining calm.
“Fuck you!” she says back. She slams it into reverse and maneuvers her car backwards down the street, completely disregarding the seven or eight cars lined up behind her as she utters a string of obscenities.
At this point, there was nothing I could contribute to the situation: the woman who had been hit was being assisted by passersby, and police and medical help were on the way. I turned around, sickened, and continued my trek back to work, hoping that this injured woman would turn out OK. And also knowing that if this selfish excuse for a human being was the one that hit the pedestrian, she would have kept on driving. Today I lost even more faith in the human race.