Impulse

I hadn’t planned to stop anywhere on my way home.
That’s always how it is, though –
that whim takes you exactly where
you need to be.
I am waiting in line behind another car
to get back onto my route home
when I hear the short screech,
a sound like a baking sheet
bending in the heat of the oven,
and the grinding gravel beneath his wheels
and then beneath his helmet when he falls.
It’s all muffled from the fishbowl
of my own car,
but before I can finish thinking,
“Oh, Jesus,”
my fingers are dialing 9-1-1
on my cell phone.
I hadn’t planned to stop anywhere on my way home,
but now I am in the restaurant parking lot
listening to myself calmly give the location
and the nature of my emergency.
I am standing with the others,
telling them I’ve called
and help is coming.
Help comes, and it blocks the exit lane,
so we stand and watch them
place one man on an ambulance cot,
give the other man a clipboard to write down his story.
I am making small talk with the woman next to me,
and she comments that I seem to know
what I’m doing.
I tell her I hadn’t planned to stop on my way home,
but the same thing was also true the last time
I had to be the one to dial 9-1-1.

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