We make them all the time. There are often options, such as which route to take on a drive or walk. Whether to change lanes or stick with the one we’re in. Whether to stop at a store or winery we just happen to be passing. All kinds of things. Sometimes I’ve wondered what effect those decisions make on the future. Could it be that by altering my route, I missed being in the wrong place at the wrong time?
Wednesday I made one of those split second decisions. I was driving on Mission Street from the Westside of Santa Cruz toward town. Mission St is a very busy thoroughfare, also being Highway 1. I planned to go to a pottery store on the left side of Mission. It’s on the east side of Palm St. On the west side of Palm St is a parking lot for a drug store. As I was approaching the parking lot entrance, there was a gap in westbound traffic on Mission, and I could see a car in the distance that I’d have to wait for if I continued driving to Palm. That car could have been followed by 20 more, and I’d have to wait to turn left until they had all passed. So I decided in that split second to turn left into the parking lot while the lane was clear. I drove through the lot and parked on the west side of Palm, facing Mission. Had I turned left on Palm instead, I’d have parked on the east side next to the pottery shop. Normally, crossing a street is no big deal, but this time it turns out it was. The street is concrete, and the middle is cracked and had broken pieces not flat and even with the rest of the street. I was well aware of that, of course. But I got distracted. A car came around the corner from Mission onto Palm. He slowed during the turn to give me time to finish crossing. The car behind him nearly rear-ended him and honked as he braked. I looked at the cars. Then I fell. I can only assume I tripped on the uneven concrete, but I don’t know for sure. It happened so fast. My head was still turned to the right, so I landed on the left side of my face, all around my eye, but thankfully, not on my eyeball. My glasses now have scratched lenses and tweaked frames, and came off during the impact, giving me a small scratch on the right side of my nose.
The driver of the car came over to ask if I was OK after he parked. By then I was sitting on the curb assessing the damages. Skinned both knees and left shoulder, but didn’t damage the jeans or shirt. Some skin abrasions above and below the left side of my eye and eyebrow. Nothing actually bleeding. Nothing broken. Guess I wouldn’t need medical attention. I’d seen someone do the exact same type of fall a few weeks ago, but she’d broken her patella, and and hit the top of her forehead. She was taken away by ambulance. I saw her again last week with a kneebrace and a cap covering her forehead. I let her know what she’d tripped on, as she had no idea.
I went back to sit in my car till I stopped shaking. Another witness came up to the door and asked if I was OK, and on seeing my injury, said I should have it looked at. No way was I going to Urgent Care to spend a couple hours waiting to be seen. And I still wanted to go to the pottery store. So after a few minutes, I put my glasses back on and went in. I know the owners- my former landlord and his wife from where I lived in the 80s. Nina helped me pick out the pottery I wanted, asked several times if I was sure I was OK, and walked the goods to my car for for me in case I was still shaky. We also caught up on what our kids were doing now while I shopped so other then the obvious, it was a pleasant visit.
Now it’s two days later. Bruise from cheek to brow, with swelling. And the abrasions are still tender to the touch. Upper and lower eyelids are very red despite not being directly hit. spread along broken capillaries, I assume. But with lots of concealer makeup and my other glasses that hide some of the swelling behind the frame, I don’t think I’ll frighten anyone. Yesterday I wore my big, very dark sunglasses, which do a pretty good job of covering the area.
So a split second decision that turned out to be the wrong one. I wouldn’t have been crossing Palm St if I’d waited and turned onto Palm instead of the parking lot. Those who believe in karma may think I’d have tripped on the curb or the steps up to the store entrance instead. I’ll never know. You’ll understand why there are no pictures included with this post. I’d love to hear other stories of split second decisions that made a difference for the good or the bad.