A view from the driver's seat


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When I dropped the girls off, there was an ambulance, a fire truck and a police car in front of their building. “Someone’s having an awesome Friday night,” I quipped. The second I went back into driver’s mode, I got a request from what seemed like the same building. Since there was too much action out front, I pulled over into an alley and texted the passenger that I couldn’t stop at the actual pick up request because there were too many vehicles there. He texted me back, “I’m actually the reason that everyone’s here. Can you pull up in front of the ambulance please?” OK… I headed towards the front of the light parade and there, sitting on the wall, was a teddy bear of a guy, baseball cap pulled deep over his eyes. A crowd of firefighters (all ruddy and blonde and thick of bicep – sigh) surrounded me barking out instructions. “Back up more! All the way! You got room!” They helped him hobble into my car, then told me where I was taking him: the emergency room. Down this street, 2.5 miles, make a left. Apparently he didn’t want to take an ambulance — too expensive.

Usually I wait for the passenger to give me a sign that he or she wants to talk. But I couldn’t help myself. “Oh my god, are you OK?”

W sighed, then told me the whole story. His girlfriend went bat shit crazy, started to destroy the apartment, then she blocked the door so he couldn’t leave and picked up a frying pan. He didn’t want to get into it with her so he opted to jump out the balcony. It was only from the 2nd floor, but because he hit a weird driveway dip, his heels hit the ground at a weird angle and he heard a crack. He was afraid that he broke them. Tears started to spill out his eyes. “I feel like such a dirtbag. Look at me, my shirt’s ripped, I’m in these ratty clothes, and…” he gestured at his tear streaked face.

I reassured him that no one would think anything about it, that it was noble for him to choose jumping over hitting her. And I told him of a fact that I had heard: that domestic abuse isn’t just about men hitting women, that men can also be the victims. And actually, female to male domestic abuse is the most underreported because of the shame that men feel over being on the short end of the stick so to speak.

He told me he refused to press charges, that he called his girlfriend’s dad so that she wouldn’t have to spend the night in prison. The relationship was definitely over. Or so he claimed. He tried to switch the subject, “So how’s your night?”

When we got to the hospital, he tried to get out of the car himself but I pushed him back. “Don’t be macho. I ‘ll get you a wheelchair.” So I ran inside and beckoned for a nurse to bring one. Then they shifted him from the car to the chair and he disappeared inside, still polite, still thoughtful. “Thank you,” he called out. “Drive safely!”


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