Friday, April 27, 2012

“Your baby is in the road!”

Driving up a narrow, two-lane, residential, mountain road on my way to the farm on Monday, I rounded a curve and glimpsed a toddler in the road.  Yes, I said a toddler; between 18-24 months of age, he was standing in the middle of the oncoming lane, holding a bottle between his teeth by the nipple.  Slowing down as I completed the curve, I scanned for the adults who must surely accompany him.  Imagine my shock as I realized he was alone!  I rolled to a stop beside him, sounding the horn of my car while frantically searching the surrounding area, keeping an eye on the child, the oncoming lane, and the road behind me all at the same time. 

I spotted movement beside a house set approximately 50 yards back from the road; a man was using electric clippers to trim some overgrown shrubs.   I resumed honking the horn without letting up, while still keeping an eye on the child and watching for any approaching cars (of which, thankfully, there were none).  The man shut of the clippers and I screamed “Your baby is in the road!”  Instantly, he dropped the clippers and sprinted to the boy, and ashen faced, scooped him up into his arms.   Young, somewhere in his late-twenties, and totally freaked out, he stuttered “Oh my G*d, he snuck out of the house,” followed by a grateful, “Thank you so much.” 

What is most shocking thing about this story, surprisingly, isn’t the baby in the road, it is the SUV a few yards in front of me who drove right passed the child without stopping.  When did we become a society that cares so little for others that you could drive passed a baby, standing alone, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD?!  I was unspeakably angry.  I wanted to hunt this person down and shake him or her.  To read them the riot act.  To do... something; I don’t know what.  But something, anything, to make them understand the sheer despicableness of what they had done.  

I thought of this child all day, and coming home that evening, I drove that road with increased caution and reduced speed, with the thought of that baby at the forefront of my mind, while trying hard NOT to imagine what could have happened.  

I know this will forever haunt that young father, the “what if”.

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