Tuesday, May 13, 2008

100 Times and Seething Rage

Two weeks ago, I took my older children to play a few video games at the local Dave and Busters after dinner. It was no special occasion. It was spontaneous. I do not think I gave it any thought until we were having dinner.

We had fun there. All went well until we were about to leave and my oldest dropped my phone. She had been holding it for me while I was playing a game. My phone is one of those high-dollar ones used for business. The screen was shattered. I did not know it at the time but it was more than $200 in damage. While that annoyed me, I realized it was an accident. I was not even upset with my kid, although I though I would have been.

On the way home, something happened to put it into perspective.

It was a quarter-to-nine in the evening. We were driving along the service road to the Dallas North Tollway to the next entrance ramp.

Immediately in front of us was a mid-nineties Mazda with a custom gold paint job, chrome wheels, and Self Adhesive Ornamental Fender Vents™ (get yours today at Autozone™ for $1.50!).

The driver of the car was swerving between both lanes and going slow. The speed limit there is fifty miles per hour. They were going about twenty. At one point, near the entrance ramp, they slowed to ten.

I honked. I did not put on a long New York Style cabbie honk. I try not to be rude – even to those who are rude themselves. I did a Hey Get Going There Are Cars Coming Up From Behind Us Doing Fifty honk.

They sped and we sped. Though they still stayed below the speed limit, it was no matter to us because just a few seconds later, we took the entrance ramp to the tollway.

I looked at them as we passed. This is something I tend to always do – i.e. look at the drivers around me. I then looked back at the road. Then I heard a BOOM followed by a slight crack. I looked to my right at my oldest and then back at my younger and saw that the right rear window of my wife’s minivan was shattered.

I wondered if it had been a rock then realized that the window had to have shot.

The last three paragraphs took place in less than a second’s time.

I checked my kids to make sure they were not hurt. They were fine. My oldest was in the front while my younger was in a middle-row seat.

I could not see the car. The tollway drops about thirty feet below the level of the service road at that point. As soon as the window was shot, we were no longer in their line of site or were they in mine.

I called the police to tell them what happened immediately after that. Unfortunately, I did not know the name of the street or “knew it incorrectly”. They were going to meet me on the road but since I gave them the wrong street, it took thirty minutes before they met me. (I was only a few blocks from the station. I called them a second time to tell them that but they were still several miles from me.)

The shoulder there was too narrow to safely park so I started to the next exit. It then occurred to me that if they were to continue through the next intersection on the service road, we could meet them after taking the exit ramp.

As much as I wanted to kill these people, keeping my kids from a gun fight was my top priority. I slowed to a crawl and then exited.

The police finally arrived. They took a report and pictures of the window. They agreed that it was highly unlikely a rock would have done that – even had it been thrown. The officer on the scene said that it may have been a BB gun. I am guessing that would be a high powered BB but I suppose it is possible. I was doing about fifty miles per hour and was about thirty yards from them at that point but it could be possible. A low-energy pistol such as a .25 or a .32 is more likely.

I cleaned the car when I got home, vacuuming the glass and taping the window. All the while, I was looking for a bullet.

The sad part is that I have replayed this a hundred times in my head wondering if I could have reacted better. If one of my children had been hurt, I would still know no more about the shooter. I would have gone immediately to a hospital. That is the only thing I think I would have done differently. Fortunately, I did not have to do that.

It is frustrating that even now, I cannot think of anything I would do differently. I would still honk at someone driving erratically. I am still not going to un-holster before honking. I would still make sure that my kids are safe above all else.

Yet, this still angers me beyond words and I am left with almost a sense of despair as to how I could have stopped them from ever doing that again.


Weetabix said...

I've never had a situation like that, but I'd say you did the right thing. I don't see that there was any possible avoidance before or resolution afterward that wasn't made of suck.

It must have been really hard not to go hunting, but with kids there, you certainly can't do that.

Shawn McManus said...

I've been shot at before but not with my kids. The older ones usually ride in the third row seat - i.e. the one covered in glass - when we are all in the van.

The only good thing about the actual shot other than none of us being hurt was that they didn't have the chance for a follow up shot.