Many ages ago, in my early twenties, I climbed into my car – a 1986 Ford Escort – to drive to work. The very same car that I would later (or had earlier…I don’t recall the timeline) steal back from crack dealing car thieves.
I lived on South 1st Street in Austin, Texas at the time, in a mildly luxurious apartment complex by college student standards, by which I mean the floors were comfortable enough to pass out on. I pulled out of the parking lot of the complex with the plan of stopping by the Popeye’s Fried Chicken on Oltorf street to pickup lunch on my way to work. I had just discovered Popeye’s Fried Chicken. I wasn’t exactly sure what the connection to Popeye was, they didn’t eve server spinach, but I thought their chicken was pretty damn good.
I needed to make a left from Oltorf Street into the Popeye’s parking lot but there were two lanes of oncoming traffic holding me at bay. This was not at a stop light, or stop sign, or any other form of regulated direction change outcropping. I waited for what seemed like weeks* as opposing traffic continued to flow, displaying a flagrant disregard for my craving of Louisiana-style fried chicken. Finally, someone in the oncoming flow of traffic stopped and waved me through. I was very grateful and initiated my left turn. But there were TWO lanes of oncoming traffic to cross…
I crossed one lane of traffic, and then as I happily crossed the second lane of traffic – the glorious aroma of Popeye’s red beans and rice bedazzling my brain – I heard a screech and a horn. I looked back, and saw through my rear passenger side window, an Austin police officer’s motorcycle crash into my car…with an Austin police officer on it! I thought…oh, boy, I’m quite fucked.
I pulled into the Popeye’s parking lot and jumped out of car. The officer had apparently flown OVER my car when he hit it. He laid on his back about 30 feet from his mangled motorcycle. I ran up to the fallen officer and he held up a hand. “Get back!” he said, “Just get away!” So I did.
I don’t remember seeing the KVUE Channel 24 Action News van pulling up, but I definitely remember the camera in my face and the reporter frantically asking me to explain what happened, his voice exhibiting levels of intensity usually reserved for WWII military tribunals.
After the Action News Team had gotten their scoop, and the paramedics had taken the fallen officer away strapped to a board, I went on to work…without any Popeye’s Fried Chicken. I was too shaken to enjoy such things.
“Failure to Yield Right of Way” was the citation I received. I was surprised, having expected something more along the lines of a “Almost Killed a Fucking Cop!” citation followed by several years of cowering under prison stairwells to avoid painful, and shameful cheek spreadings by guys with teardrops tattooed on their faces.
*Instead of the 1.3 minutes of time that actually transpired.