On Easter Sunday Pepper and I were driving back home after visiting my parents for Easter dinner. I was slowing down & coming to a stop at a light on a four-lane section of the road in downtown Claremont. The tan-colored pickup truck ahead of me was pitching to the left next to the other stopped vehicle at the light. It had a bunch of veteran-themed bumper stickers on it. The driver put his hand out the window, seeming to brandish something that he was pointing at the folks in the front seat of the darkly-colored jeep next to him. He was holding it and pointing it like a gun... I felt my face flush and get tingly... my heart felt like it jumped up behind my larynx. A rapid-fire series of thoughts went screaming through my head:
"HOLY CRAP!!! This is rural New England, this type of stuff does not happen here, especially not in broad daylight!!!!"
"I am about to witness a murder, memorize the make & model of the vehicle along with the plate number!!!"
"I should ram him, it might throw off his shot!" *heart pounding out of my chest*...
As I revved up the engine and got ready to let off the clutch, his hand turned slightly and I saw that it was not, in fact, a gun, but an eight-inch-long package of rolled candy which he was passing to the person on the passenger side of the vehicle next to him. He was holding it pinched between his thumb-joint and the knuckle of his index finger with the candy sitting parallel with his wrist and his hand clenched, thus looking like the barrel of a handgun.
When the light turned green, the truck pulled away and I realized that I was still staring at the back of it as it got to the next set of lights, with white-knuckled hands on the shifter and the wheel, my left foot quivering on the clutch. The person in the car in back of me began to honk his horn angrily because I was holding up traffic. I let off the clutch slowly and pulled ahead as my heart-rate began to slow down again.
It is extremely rare that I ever do something impulsive let alone an action with the potential to be life-altering. That driver will never know that he came within a split second of a damaged truck bed along with a probable case of whiplash and/or a broken arm that day. Even though I was erring with the welfare of others in mind, it would have been a very awkward apology as well as an unbelievable explanation to the police. It was one of those moments which felt like an hour compressed into a few seconds.
Moral of the story: it is generally a bad idea to pass things from vehicle to vehicle while in traffic, especially objects which can be mistaken for weapons. Oh yeah, and look before you leap.
Three cheers for the path not taken!