I wanted to tell one of those little vignettes of urban life that I rarely write here. It happened to me last week during the run-up to Seafair, when all Seattle goes especially crazy about everything to do with the water. I was driving my 6-year old son and his friend from lunch at Mioposto to Seward Park, where we planned to hike and swim (it was a hot day).
I drove up to a four way stop intersection in a nice quiet Mt. Baker residential neighborhood and stopped the car. There was another car coming to my left which promptly drove, without stopping, through the stop sign going at least 30 mph. I promptly honked my horn to let them know they’d missed the sign. The car’s occupants began shouting like they were at a rock concert which revealed that they were two young women. As I turned in the same direction as they’d driven, I could see that they’d stopped the car in the middle of the street and were flashing what resembled gang signs out of their sun roof (my son later told me that though I hadn’t paid close attention to this particular part of the incident). The driver exited the car and began shouting at me though happily she didn’t attempt to approach my car. I shouted to her that she’d missed the stop sign. Their reply was hoots of derision. So I honked the car at them to get moving so we could end the farce/fiasco. They stayed put in their car in an act of petulant defiance. I honked some more (OK, I never claimed I was a total innocent in this mess). Finally they drove on.
Being pissed off, and believing that future driving like this could land them in prison or the hospital, I called 911 to report the stop sign that they’d run. I was beginning to give the officer the license plate and location of the incident when, a block later, still driving behind them, I saw a small dog in the street. Instead of slowing down, stopping, or swerving aside they drove right past the dog. Just as they reached it, the poor thing moved toward the car. I don’t even know if the creature knew the car was there. The car plowed into the dog, which bounced off the front wheel howling in pain as it rolled several times away from the car.
I was still on the phone with the 911 dispatcher and said without skipping a beat: “And I can’t believe they just ran over a dog.” That got the dispatcher’s interest. They sent out a police officer.
To their credit (the only credit you’ll hear me give them regarding this entire incident), the girls (they looked to be about 18 or so and African American and also appeared to have just come from, or were going to the beach–probably watching Seafair) did pull their car over. Part of me wonders whether another reason they might’ve done so is the dog’s owners were also African-American though that may be churlish on my part. As I pulled past them, I said: “Nice driving” (again perhaps not my finest hour). The driver looks suitably chastened by what she’d done. Somehow, I wish she’d been just a little bit chastened by running the stop sign. I wondered how chastened she might’ve felt if she’d run that sign with my van right in the middle of the intersection and plowed right into me with my two child passengers.
The 911 dispatcher said the only way they could take any action against the driver was if the dog owner wished to press charges. Otherwise, there was nothing they could do about either running the stop sign or injuring the dog. I hope to God neither I nor any other Seattle driver or pedestrian ever encounters them driving this way again. But with such callous disregard for traffic laws and life, what are the odds?