Every once in awhile, an unprecedented event takes place, and even while it is happening, you know the same thing will never happen to you again. Certain occurrences are more rare than getting struck by lightning, which can, in fact, strike twice.
I was stopped on Kingston Pike at the Scenic Drive light, and I had just finished talking to my friend Chris, an Anglican vicar, about communications at Apostles Anglican and the church’s new website.
A car had just rear-ended my 4Runner, and it rocked forward with the impact. I glanced at the rearview mirror. All I saw was empty road, no car with a crumpled hood and distraught driver. Strange.
What had just happened?
Putting my truck in park and yanking up the parking break, I stepped out and walked around to the back.
A man about my own age was busy disentangling himself from his motorcycle. Uncertain whether he was hurt or not and wobbling like a newborn calf, he rose to his feet.
“Ah, sh**! Ah, sh**!” he exclaimed over and over again. He had not yet noticed me.
He patted his chest and thighs as though searching for his keys. Assured that he wasn’t seriously hurt, he gazed down at his bike, which lay on its left side, before finally realizing that he had company. His eyes opened wide. Yes, somebody had been sitting in the stationary truck that he had hit. Imagine that.
“Oh, my bad, Pimpin’, ah, sh**! My bad–I–my–well, I was trying to stop, and one of my rotors is bent, and it wasn’t catching, so I squeezed it real hard, and then it locked up, and I slid. Ah, my bad, Pimpin’. I’m sorry.”
I assume that “Pimpin'” was a shortened version of “Big Pimpin’,” as in “We doin big pimpin, we spendin cheese” from the Jay-Z song entitled “Big Pimpin.” It is not on my playlist.
He bent over to look at the rear hatch of the 4Runner, then he looked back at me.
He started shaking his head. “I f****n’ hit the motherf****r,” he moaned.
“Yes, you did,” I replied.
“My bad, Pimpin’, my bad.”
Please stop calling me “Pimpin’,” I thought. Why not “man” or “buddy” or “sir”?
“Why don’t we pull down here off Kingston, onto Forest Glen?” I said.
The light had turned green, then red, then green again, and at around four o’clock in the afternoon, both westbound lanes were at least twenty deep with cars. We were an island of broken plastic and bits of glass in a stream of traffic. I wondered what the person in the car immediately behind us was thinking about the nervous, confused guy in a black leather jacket with neon yellow shoulder patches looking right and left as if to find a door hanging in the air to escape the situation.
“Yea, yea, that’s a good idea, Pimpin’.”
He heaved his bike onto its wheels. It was—or had been—one of those Suzuki crotch rockets, which belong on the set of Star Trek and resemble insects in garish purples, atomic greens, and black. Its front section had separated from the handlebars and dangled by a few wires.
Once we had relocated to Forest Glen, he told me his name was “K.J.” Of course he went by his initials. I would have been even less surprised if he’d asked me to call him “Tayst,” “Chillz,” or “Neezy,” an intentional misspelling, trendy “z” substitution, or nonsense word to convey toughness and individuality.
K.J. explained again what had happened and apologized two dozen more times, all the while calling me, “Pimpin’.”
I began to feel sorry for him and asked if he had insurance.
“Liability,” he answered.
“Are you okay?”
He thought so.
“You know you didn’t do that damage to my bumper and my rear door. That was already there. I did that pulling out a bush.”
This was good news to him. He grinned and started nodding. His teeth were cappuccino-colored. I felt even more sorry for him. To what degree to white teeth and good dental hygiene multiply one’s opportunities in this country?
We had nothing else to talk about except to lament the damage done to his bike.
He thanked me for being so cool, I got back in my car, and I drop fifteen feet to the stoplight. In my rearview mirror, I saw him pick up the mess of dash and windshield and drop again with a sigh. His shoulders sank. He was lucky that the collision didn’t catapult him into oncoming traffic.
I could have lied and told him that the dents in the door and the sagging bumper were his fault, but Pimpin’ don’t lie. Pimpin’ don’t be a hustler like that. Hopefully, this did K.J. some good. I hope he fixed that rotor.
If a bachelor’s degree equals an extra $1,000,000 in lifetime earnings, I wonder how much some dental floss and Listerine are worth?