A finger-width’s lesson

Published 5:21 am Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I made it out the door just five or six minutes after 5 p.m. that Wednesday with plenty of time – I figured – to get my children out the door, in the car and deposited at Wednesday night church.
Awana at Red Oak Baptist starts with dinner promptly at 6 p.m., in case you’re interested.
Generally, nothing of significance happens on the drive home, and I like it that way. It gives me time to shift my brain from work mode to mommy mode – a shift of “p’s and q’s” to peas and squash, if you will…on most days, anyway.
But this Wednesday wasn’t a normal day – I could tell that by the way the gold four-door sedan was weaving all over the single lane of highway. My first thought was it was a drunk driver; however, after a closer examination, I decided the driver – a woman – was talking on a cell phone. Her posture was leaning to the right side, as if resting on the middle console or an armrest.
Once, twice her back tire crossed the yellow line and into the soft dirt of the shoulder of the road. I hung back and contemplated calling 911.
I went so far as to search my console for a pen to write down the license plate when the car went off the road a third time – hard and fast – coming to an abrupt stop some 50 feet off the highway. As I slowed, again it looked like the woman was leaning slightly to the right.
My last thought of the car was, “Boy, I’d hate to be the person on the other end of that line. She was so mad she had to pull off the road to talk.”
If only that had been the case. You see, I didn’t think about the car again until after the girls and I had made it to church. We took the “back way” – the dirt road to Rockhole Bridge Road.
As I signed them in, they made their way into the dinner line. We bowed our heads to pray, and I heard the sirens go by. The preacher – the Rev. Eugene Meadows – ribbed me about missing a hot story, and I halfheartedly pretended to choose between kissing my children goodbye and running out the door.
While cranking the car, my curiosity won out. I called the office and headed down Hwy. 55 toward home. As soon as I got the office on the line, I saw the blue lights. My first thought was, “I hope it wasn’t the gold car.”
It was, and my heart stopped.
The driver had run off the road and missed hitting a telephone pole by a “finger’s width.”
What I thought was a heated cell phone conversation turned out to be a significant medical issue, and I realized – that day – I was a “finger’s width” away from saving a person’s life.
And while the day ended on a positive note – no one was injured and the car was safe from harm – I learned that I should better trust my instincts and that I should be more observant.
After all, you never know when or where the hand of fate decides to close that finger’s width gap.