There was a pigeon stuck inside the post office – I’d seen it flying up against the lobby windows as I’d walked by. That’s what I was thinking about. I was brought back to earth when I heard a loud “Crunch”. A pickup had rear-ended an SUV stopped at a red light just as I was walking up to the corner.
It was just a fender bender. The left end of the SUV’s bumper was pointing out at an odd angle. The front of the pickup was dented badly. The drivers stayed in their cars while the light was red. I stood on the corner with the other pedestrian, a slack-jawed gawker.
When the light changed, the SUV – the car that had been hit – turned slowly and deliberately around the corner. The driver of the pickup hesitated, and after a few moments he pulled his car forward. (There was a sprinkling of debris on the street, including a mostly intact turn signal.) I watched as he pulled into the intersection, where he hesitated again and then continued up the street away from the other car.
I stared, still slack-jawed, thinking the obvious, “He’s going the wrong way. He needs to talk to the other driver.” I had a moment’s hesitation before realizing it was a hit and run. And lost another moment while I realized that that meant I should get the license plate number. I read the numbers off the back of the pickup as it quickly receded into the distance and turned back the way I’d come.
The SUV had parked outside the post office, a block away. I walked over and, without saying anything, was immediately accepted into the conversation the driver was having with two other bystanders.
I gave the driver the license plate number, but pointed out that I’d noticed it wasn’t a Washington plate, but couldn’t tell which state it was from.
She fished around for some paper, settling for the liner notes of a CD, where she wrote down the number. “Did you see what color it was?”
“Yeah. The plate was white with blue trim.”
Another woman walked up, she had the license number too. The driver asked if she’d gotten the state. She answered no, but a man came up behind her and said, “It was Wisconsin.” Then he pointed at the corner opposite ours and said blankly, “There it is.” We looked to where he was pointing, the pickup drove past and drove and continued down the hill away from us.
We all just stood there, slack-jawed again, until the driver broke the silence, “Alright. Thanks, everyone.”
I walked past the post office again and the pigeon that was stuck inside flew up against the window.