An Unexpected Meeting

Tonight I turned my bicycle north onto 125 St from 102 Ave and promptly smashed into myself.

In front of me and blocking my path ahead was an SUV that was corkscrewed in the middle of the road, sitting there, then moving slowly backwards and closer and closer to the curb of parked cars behind it and then lurching forward a bit, then moving backwards again, long white reverse lights and shortshortshort red brake lights.

My thought about the driver was not in keeping with the approaching Christmas season.

It took another half minute or so for the SUV's driver to wrestle the metal back into the proper direction, opening a channel for me to pedal by, my thoughts, as mentioned, uncharitable.

And then the sound of three raps from the inside of the driver's side window as I moved by. I stopped and turned around and watched as the veiled window slowly glided down to reveal her face. She was a big frightened.

"Can you help me? I don't know how to get out of here," she said. "I took a wrong turn and now I don't know how to get out of here."

"Where are you going?"

"170th St and 64th Ave."

She was an older woman, but seemed in control of things, and had been confounded by the buckled bridge over Groat Road and then marooned in the neighbourhood and its narrow streets and its lack of an exit route to Stony Plain Road.

I tried to offer verbal directions, but, listening to myself try, and watching her not follow my turnaroundturnrightturnleftturnleft, turned my bike around and told her to follow me. We turned left onto 102 Ave, me ahead, her behind, and waited at the red light. I pointed back toward her vehicle and we talked about the long light.

Talking at the lights pointing east

Then we turned left onto 124 St toward Stony Plain Road and we waited at the red light and we talked about the traffic and the snow.

Talking at the lights pointing north
I again asked her if she knew where she was and if, when she turned left onto Stony Plain Road and our converged paths diverged again, she could get to 170 St, and she said yes, yes, thank you, and I believed her. We got through the next flashing green signal and I spun across to the far sidewalk and she waved as she drove by.

On her way west

I wondered, should I have done more and offered to drive her to her destination or phone someone at the other end? But I didn't think of those things when I was waiting for the lights to change. I remembered my initial thought about a clueless driver, and I felt a stab of shame. And I thought about the contrast between the metal and glass on the outside of the SUV and the flesh and bone of the human being, trying to get home, sitting inside.

And I kept thinking about that, and still am. Siri will be no help on this one.


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