The Big Black Mercedes of Death

The intersection at 32nd and Lyndale is apparently a treacherous one. 32nd’s overhanging traffic light is festooned with a large metal sign with bold letters indicating that this is an “Accident Reduction Zone.” I am never sure what to make of those. Not unlike any other intersection in the city, there is no obvious reason why this one is more accident prone than any other. I suppose it has something to do with its insignificance.

I was having a bad day on Tuesday. I was called into the boss’s office, frustrated by a non-compliant computer, and foiled by a printer that would not work for anyone. I joked to my co-worker that with the way this day was going that I would probably get into an accident on the way home.

I shouldn’t joke about those things on a bad day.

I usually cross 32nd and Lyndale with some trepidation since people don’t seem to notice when the light is red. I can’t put a number on it, but I have never seen so many egregious violations of basic traffic laws. At no other intersection have I seen so many ran red lights. The fact that there is no two second delay between light changes doesn’t help. I am in the habit of waiting a few seconds when my light is green to see if any of Uptown’s finest citizens will apply the breaks on their Toyota Priuses.

But Tuesday would be a different day, because I wanted to get home. The thought of relaxing with an open book next to may space heater was a comforting thought that could not be delayed by a couple seconds of prudence.

I pulled out when the light turned green.

Halfway through the intersection I noticed the Big Black Mercedes G550 of Death hurtling straight towards me. It was looming larger by the instant in my passenger side window.

The Toyota would be no match for this beast. Not out of first gear yet I floored the gas peddled as I was turning white. The Toyota responded with a jolt that I did not know first gear was capable of, and my 2.4 liter engine squealed like a toy whistle (you know, the kind you find at a kid’s birthday party).

Big Mercedes must have noticed that there was a small Toyota in his way, and swerved violently out of the way barely missing my rear end. I guess 100,000$ pays for good traction control, because he did not end up barreling end over end like a Ford Explorer. I turned and screamed a few choice words at the errant driver, though they were futilely not heard.

Moments afterward, I sat silently parked outside my apartment thinking of the bloody mess I could have been if things had been different. It is amazing how vivid the imagination can be. The wrecked vehicles, glass everywhere, a crumpled body, the ambulance, a neckbrace, a body board…

What is more amazing is how much nothing matters. None of my concerns about work mattered. None of my insecurities about the future or the anxieties over how to plan for it mattered. All the crap being talked about on the radio–the economy, the local sports teams, the president’s tax policies, it was all trivial. It all could have been gone in an instant.

As terrifying as it was, this was a good feeling to have. I savored it. It gave me perspective, at least for awhile. I thought about how I have treated people. I thought of how seriously and not seriously I take my faith. I thought about God and heaven and hell. I thought about people I love and haven’t loved enough.

In way I am thankful for Big Black Mercedes SUV. But Minneapolis really has to fix that light.

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4 thoughts on “The Big Black Mercedes of Death

  1. There are two reasons why that intersection is tough.

    1) People don’t think they need to stop until they get to Lake St.

    2) Southwest Minneapolis residents are bastards.

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