Lately, I’ve developed strong, irrational safety concerns for total strangers.
It started innocently enough with the standard worries about distracted drivers on cell phones or jaywalkers strolling into traffic.
But it really escalated when I moved to the Salem Common area, where my running route brings me past the famous Roger Conant statue. It is here that tourists test their fate daily as they stand in the middle of busy Washington Street, eyes fixed into the viewfinder, inching backwards into traffic, seemingly oblivious to the brakes screeching around them as drivers fling their right arms protectively across the passenger seat to save their fast food bags from possible impact, while the visitor snaps what will later be sensationalized as “the last photo they ever took”.
Post run, I head off to work in Boston, where I count no less than 12 accidents waiting to happen; 13 if you count me driving distracted while on the lookout for unsafe driving practices in other vehicles. I saw everything from illegal texting to someone embroiled in a massive screaming fight with their passenger to a car that appeared to be driving itself.
I even feared for the dog surfing the wind; his front paws rested on the passenger window, ears flapping in the breeze and a gummy grin on his face. And while I understand that dogs falling out of vehicles is an uncommon road hazard, I can’t help myself. It’s a concern.
Getting away from it all on vacation to the West Coast, we visited an observatory on top of a hill, where a fun loving group of young adults asked me to take their photo. Through the viewfinder, I saw them leap onto the top of the wall overlooking what now seemed to be the edge of the Grand Canyon. So I snapped, in more ways than one, as I made them promise to “please get down from there” immediately after the shoot.
It was then that I realized this formerly fun-loving risk taker has replaced “that looks like fun” with “that looks like a good way to hurt yourself”. What the heck happened to me?
Back home, I tried to chill out with the love of my life- ice cream. But it merely incited more stranger stress because instead of anticipating a delicious hot fudge sundae at a favorite hot spot, I worried about the danger of the line forming across the busy parking lot entrance, wondering how many would wish for a sundae as their last meal if it truly were, trying to lead the line to the safety of the building’s edge; a sad sheep dog with no following flock.
Soon it will be the 4th of July, setting off fireworks of fear ranging from drunk driving to boat accidents to people blowing their fingers off to rancid mayonnaise products.
So happy 4th of July everyone, but please celebrate responsibly.
I’m worried about you.