Monday, 21 April 2008

The Saddest/Funniest Thing I've Seen All Day

Since it's England, I seized a brief window of sunshine in the on and off drizzling this afternoon to run to the bank and deposit a check that I'd left sitting on my desk since the end of February. I didn't bother asking why my bank doesn't have any sort of system to notify them if you're going out of the country and recommends that you call after your account is turned off. The number isn't toll free, but they do offer to call you back. Strangely, this is not at all helpful in a country where you're phoneless. It happened in Morocco and I used my Bank of America card, and then it happened again in Croatia and I had to rely on the kindliness of an Australian woman who operated a combination bookstore/cybercafe with cheap phones who helped me figure out dialing codes because I bought Cat's Cradle and a complimentary thirty minutes of internet access from her about two minutes prior. I try to keep my angry bank visits and my getting money bank visits separate, both as a matter of principle and as a precaution so that they don't refuse to dispense money out of spite.

But as I was leaving the bank, the skies were getting cloudy again, and everyone started to hustle indoors. I hugged my bag close to make way for a woman who seemed to be in a hurry, who was coming toward me from the far end of the block pushing a baby carriage. As she got about twenty feet away, I noticed that a car was coming up behind them - and I think everyone on the street saw this coming but was powerless to stop it - and just as it pulled up, it hit a deep puddle and launched a five foot tidal wave that completely engulfed both the woman and the baby carriage, who had their backs to it and were completely caught off-guard. The worst part was that the puddle was so deep that the car dragged a bit, meaning that this all happened in slow motion and the wave engulfed them for a good two or three seconds. The aftermath was super awkward, because the woman and the baby (who was rendered mute, apparently) just stood there looking overwhelmed, the driver stopped and apologized profusely, two guys on the street took it upon themselves to yell at him, and everyone else stood in place uncertain as to what to do next. (I wish I had a towel, but offering the two Kleenex I had in my bag didn't seem particularly helpful.) My first thought is that this is something that I would surreptitiously watch over and over again on YouTube if I saw it there, but it somehow feels totally evil to laugh at a baby in a tidal wave when it actually happens in front of you. It's like watching someone you know actually step on a rake or fall off a roof - funny, but it probably shouldn't be.

(My only consolation was that I wiped out in almost exactly the same spot when I got both my feet caught in that loop of packaging wire and caught the curb with my chin and knocked myself unconscious and ripped open the bottom half of my face, so I prefer to think that the cosmos was just giving something back in return.)

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