I thoroughly enjoyed walking in Georgia where the people spoke with the southern drawl I learned when I lived outside of Atlanta in the nineteen sixties from the ages of one to five. The words just come naturally when I am not paying attention to my diction. All the years in Kentucky I have felt out of place, never quite matching the Ol' Kentucky Home way a'tawkin'. From the first morning I stepped across the state line, and had the Sunday special at Shirley's Diner, a Thanksgiving plate of food that tasted just like my mother prepared for the holidays, I felt at home.. It's no wonder why I am as big as a truck and the rich cooking she learned to make while we lived in Georgia helped lead to her death from diabetes; Paula Dean had nothin' on Mom.. Sitting on that bar stool I was nonetheless taken back to my childhood surrounded by tastes, sounds, and attitudes that helped shape my mind and Buddha shaped belly; I felt like a nursing kitten, all warm an' fuzzy.
Days later I had stayed behind a Fire Station for the night, had been featured in the local newspaper, was interviewed live on the AM talk radio station by their roving morning personality as I walked out of the biggest town I had been in since entering Georgia. We were walking on the sidewalk along the five lane roadway with turning lanes and stoplights. With all those lanes the traffic was light, the morning rush hour had passed. A white pickup truck rolled by. Ten seconds later I heard the crunch of metal and a man cursing in the distance. I turned to see the truck had hit a car that was pulling out of a parking lot, the truck had tagged it's rear quarter though he had more than enough room to avoid the incident. I wondered if the driver had been paying attention to the road or the world behind him, I walked on. Later in the day I had passed the last stores on the outskirts of town and was rolling along the grassy bank well away from the white line along the roads edge when I passed an intersection to a side road on the opposite side. I watched a grey car slow but it passed me and stopped to turn onto the side street that was now thirty yards behind me. Then I turned my head to see another white pickup truck rolling by but the driver was not applying his brakes. As the seconds ticked I expected to hear the screech of tires as the truck came to a stop, I listened for the trucks engine to throttle down, I said to myself,"This will not be good.". The crash occurred before I could finish the thought. A few seconds later, after the sound of the impacts and rolling vehicles came to an end I stopped shaking my head in disbelief to see the first car coming to rest on the opposite side of the road. My first instinct was to run back and see what I could do to help, I had done enough. I walked on in disbelief. Of all the thousands of miles we have walked, the many tight spots I have skirted next to traffic I would have never thought it would happen there in Georgia; twice in one day.
That evening the man who came and found me to give me a ride back to town to retrieve the van was a retired police officer. When I told him of the accident and shared how bad I felt, how I felt responsible, he assured me the fault was not mine. "If there is a carnival on the side of the road it is the responsibility of the driver to watch the road ahead, that's the law." When I was picking up the van behind the fire station a few fire fighters came out to talk and congratulate me for walking for diabetes awareness and joke with me for causing an accident. They had responded to the scene and had a good time with the driver of the white pickup truck who was blaming me for the mishap. As I was pulling away the shift commander stopped me to shake my hand for the work I was doing... and rub it in about the crash. I still felt bad about it.
Please keep your eye on the road ahead; don't look back.