Friday, October 2, 2009

Slow News Day

I hit a kid on a bike once. About fifteen years ago, while driving my car. It was a hot summer day, the sun shining bright as I inched my car's nose out into the road so I could see both ways on Grand Avenue in Spirit Valley here in Duluth. Not a car in sight. As I accelerated out of the K-Mart parking lot I continued to look both ways and still no cars. As I crossed the middle of the road, making a left, he was right there, my left front bumper striking the side of the bicycle. In slow motion the kid and bike went down.

I'd been going very slowly and stopped in an instant. To my surprise, the very first thing I heard was laughter, two 12 or 13 year old boys pointing at the kid whom I had just hit and roaring with glee, their backs arched. Hahahaha. I'd just hit a kid on a bike and the only two witnesses here thought it was funny.

"Go inside and call the police," I shouted to the boys, pointing to the K-Mart.

The kid on the bike was wearing shorts, and the accident was so mild that though his knee seemed to have a slight abrasion even that was hard to tell. There was no blood. His first reaction was to pick up the bike and start leaving.

"Wait a minute, what's you're name? We have to stay here till the police arrive."

The bike had a few bent parts so he couldn't ride it, thus he pushed and dragged it away around the corner and up an alley. I pulled my car out of the road and waited for the police.

The boy did in fact return and the officer called for us to sit in his car and explain what happened.

Essentially, the boy would not let the policeman see the bike, and he himself was so lacking in injury that there was little the officer could say. The kid was thirteen, mouthy and uncooperative.

A firetruck arrived with five or six firemen there to assist with the accident. "Is this where the kid on a bike was hit by a car?" The policeman said all was under control and they left.

The officer then interviewed the two witnesses. Afterwards he and I walked over to my car to see what damage had been done there. None that either of us could see. He explained to be the strange behavior of the boy, who had been told by his parents, after five times being caught riding in the street, that if he ever rode that bike on the road again they would take it away from him.

He had been on the sidewalk across from the store, looked both ways just like me, and shot out from the shadows into the bright empty street, which a moment later was not empty because he had not looked across the street, just as I had not.

As the officer was explaining all this, we both looked up and saw a TV news crew across the street, its lens pointed directly at the two of us discussing the accident. At this point he cracked, "Must be a slow news day."

This was back in the days when we got out news the old fashioned way. Today, with Internet, we can get news feeds from all over the world. Not only CNN and the network news teams, but Jeruslaem Times and Lahore, Pakistan to Rio in Brazil. (Top story in Rio: can they acquire to 2016 Olympics? Obama is pulling for Chicago.)

There are no slow news days any more with events happening everywhere and reporters reporting about them, whether tragedies or political shenanigans. Sports is also 24/7 activity with teams of sports journalists covering that, too, from Tokyo to Tunis.

At the top of the international news this week were earthquakes in Indonesia again and there is much suffering there along with loss of life. In contrast, hopefully in your corner of the world it's a slow news day.

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