I have never considered my job dangerous. Sure, I’ve been verbally and physically threatened, shot at once and almost driven off a mountain. But for the most part, community reporting isn’t exactly high-risk employment.
Now getting to work, that’s a different story.
After years of playing musical parking at metered spots on 17th Street, which often resulted in tickets, I got a spot in the nearby garage last fall. I would save money on tickets and meter fees, I thought, not to mention the time I wasted moving my car every two hours.
The two block walk to the office would even provide some much-needed exercise. This would be good for my wallet and my health, I thought.
I couldn’t have been more wrong about the health part.
That’s because I have to cross both 17th Street and Winchester Avenue to get to and from The Independent. While I’ve long been vigilant about intersection crossings, even when protected in my car by reinforced steel, I underestimated how attentive one truly must be when walking.
I’ve had a few close calls before, the texting teenager who rolled into the crosswalk a few paces in front of me. The old man who only looked left before turning right, almost rolling over my foot.
On Tuesday afternoon, however, I came the closest yet to being Winchester Avenue road kill.
I had crossed 17th Street on my way to lunch and was waiting to cross Winchester Avenue. When the light turned red for Winchester traffic, I watched the cars come to a complete stop before looking both ways again and stepping into the road.
I eyed all directions suspiciously as I made my way across four lanes. When I reached the fourth, just a few feet from the sidewalk on the other side, I felt a sudden wind on my legs as a car zoomed by, passing within an inch of my body. A motorist turning right onto Winchester Avenue had decided the few seconds it would have cost him to wait on me was apparently worth more than my life.
When I realized what had almost happened, a hot wave of paralyzing fear washed over my body. A stranger yelling, “Are you OK? Are you OK?” as he rushed toward me down the sidewalk pulled me back to reality.
I forced my feet to carry me the few more steps to safety.
“Yes,” I stammered out. “Can you believe that jerk?” I blurted out, my fear quickly turning to anger.
I felt violated and helpless. I was almost a front page story and a nameless Monday morning statistic. According to the Kentucky State Police’s running tally of pedestrian deaths released each Monday, I would have been No. 13.
Even more scary, though, is as I have told my story to others this week, I have collected many more. There were tales of right turns with drivers looking left. Blatant red light busting and, of course, texting or cell-phone-chatting inattentive drivers.
Crossing Winchester, it turns out, is like playing Russian Roulette.
Suddenly, parking tickets don’t seem so expensive ...
CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at (606) 326-2653 or by email at email@example.com