Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Do Guardian Angels Get Promotions?

I've had a weird day.

To be honest, it started out with me in an awful mood, but very quickly my entire life changed just a little bit. There is a fantastic passage in The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, my favorite book by Douglas Adams, that describes how if you manage to turn your body "billionth part of a billionth part of a degree" you find yourself in Asgard, homeland of the Norse Gods. Obviously, I don't think I'm there. But there was a point today at which I decided that I believe in parallel universes and the soul's ability to transfer in and out of them. I haven't yet figured out if that fits in with the Episcopalian religion yet, but that's for another time.

I woke up in a foul mood. The kids were absolute shits last night and 66% of them were sent to bed without finishing their supper. I went to bed early too, although thankfully, Leah did not send me there because I wasn't listening to her. Anyway, I woke up with the badly misbehaving children still on my mind. Then the shower wouldn't get hot. There is nothing in this world I hate more than having to take a semi-warm shower when I wake up in the morning. I grumbled through helping get the kids ready for school, grumbled Sam into the car, and grumbling, set off for the city.

Sam has a prescribed route we drive to his school that is his favorite. We take a couple of extra turns, but he gets to see the Cheerios plant, the City of Buffalo Fire Boat up close, the City of Buffalo trolley house, HSBC arena, Coke a Cola Stadium, Gramma's work, and he gets to drive over a cobblestone street. We drove in silence past all of these landmarks this morning.

This route puts us on Washington Street in downtown Buffalo. It's a typical Buffalo street, a little small for the amount of traffic that flows on it, but still in better shape than most of the other options. There comes a point on Washington Street where you basically have no choice but to turn left. To continue on straight brings you into Roswell Park Cancer Center, and there are too many morning deliveries and pedestrians in that area to make travel by car efficient at 8:00 in the morning. The left turn occurs at the intersection with Goodell Street. It's an odd intersection by comparison. Goodell is a one-way street with four travel lanes going from my right to my left as we faced it. Washington is a two lane road. Here's the Street view in Google Maps.

View Larger Map

I consider myself a good driver. I've had a couple of speeding tickets and have been in a couple of fender benders, none of which were my fault. I have never actually hit anyone. And as a good driver, I've developed habits that I use to make my driving better. One of which, as most every person who steps into an automobile will agree, is to pull into the intersection when taking a left turn. It makes the turn quicker and lets you get out of the intersection that much faster.

This morning, as I sat silently stewing in my foul moodiness, I didn't pull forward when the light turned green. For the first time in 20 years of driving, I didn't pull in the intersection. I don't know why.

What I do know is that a second after my foot didn't hit the gas, less than a second after my car wasn't pulling into the middle of that intersection waiting to turn left, a 10-wheel dump truck barreled through the red light, directly across what would have been my path, going at least 35 miles per hour.

It would have crushed us.

A few seconds after all the horns of petrified motorists were silenced and normal traffic flow resumed, I started to shiver as I realized what just occurred. I can't explain why and some of you are going to think that I've really started to go over the deep end. But I truly believe that in the instant before that light changed, reality fractured into different dimensional time lines in some way. In a parallel dimension, I pulled into that intersection and we were pulverized. Someone or something grabbed hold of our souls and pulled them into the alternate reality where I didn't step on the gas. Just a billionth part of a billionth part away from where we were previously in the universe.

I more than just a little bit thankful for it, no matter who or what caused it to be.