I was living with my sister Marilyn and her husband Jere in South Minneapolis, and working at the Hi-Vee bagging groceries on Lake Street. Jere and I were heading to Macalester College in St. Paul one night to see a friend, and he was showing me how to maintain a certain speed in order to hit all the lights green.
We passed Bonnie’s Tap, one of our haunts, where we played foosball. We were actually quite good; I played ups (the fastest right hand on the planet), and Jere was good at goalie, something I sucked at. We had a regulation-size foosball table in our apartment, and I think we won a tournament once at Bonnie’s (don’t recall a lot of those days).
Any way, we came upon an intersection just as the light turned green, and a lady coming from the side street had punched it to make a late yellow. I could see that she was going to T-bone us, and it almost seemed like it was happening in slow-motion while we just sat there waiting, when actually it all happened very quickly and there was no time to react. She hit us broadside on my (passenger) side, and the last thing I remember was my head smashing out the side window, and the loudest noise I ever heard.
When I came to, it all seemed so surreal. Jere was somehow stuck under the dash, and there was a big, blinding bright light shining in my face. Apparently, our car had been spun around and into the path of an oncoming city bus. Because I had bounced off Jere (while the bus hit him on the other side), I was relatively unhurt, and escaped with minor injuries; Jere wasn’t as lucky, and he would have to convalesce for some time.
The doors were all smashed in, so I pulled Jere through the broken window and laid him on the ground as we waited for an ambulance. A small crowd formed, and someone threw their jacket over Jere, while someone else asked, “Is he dead?” I remembered that there was a bag of weed in the glove-compartment, so I went back to the car to retrieve it, but the car door was bent in right on top of the glove-box, so I couldn’t get it.
For the next few years I had a phobia about street lights and intersections. At first, I didn’t even dare ride in a car. So when my boss told me I would have to go to St. Paul to take a physical for my new job, I didn’t know how I could get there. Finally, I decided that taxi-cab drivers must be safe, so I took a deep breath and called one. When he pulled up, and I got in, I could see he was more nervous than I was. His hands were shaking on the wheel, and he looked at me and said, “You’re my first customer!” Oh shit! I thought, buckling in. We went down two blocks and hit another car head-on. I moved back up North shortly thereafter.