Yesterday evening, from the front of my house where I was standing with my dog, I saw two people walking along the six lane state highway near where I live. They were across a smaller road and on the sidewalk and I could just sort of make out their silhouettes and then a few more details in some of the headlights of passing cars.
At first they seemed to me a couple, a young man with his arm draped over the young woman’s shoulder. Then in the next flash of headlights, she was pushing him away. And he was stumbling away from her, towards to the traffic, stepping in such a way that revealed either a slight limp or too many drinks.
But I was a county road away and the cars were driving by and so I couldn’t hear them and didn’t know what was really going on. Was he hurting her in some way? Was she trying to fight him off? They were soon behind the tree that was between me and them and I could make out even less. No one else was around to intervene.
But, wait, of course there were people around. Each of the cars driving by — and there must have been at least twenty? Thirty? In the period of time I was able to see them. And each of those cars with at least one person, a driver inside. Maybe more. Moving fast. Too fast to see? To fast to care?
These two people eventually moved out of my line of sight. I still do not have resolution on whether or not I should have crossed the street and stood out there with her as the cars rumbled past so that she would know that she was not alone, that someone was there to help her if she needed it. But how to keep myself safe? And, after all, it might have been nothing.
And it was all just one more seemingly small way in which this six-lane highway further isolates us, how car culture inflicts its individuality and freedom on even those outside of cars, standing on the sidewalk on the side of a road maybe trying to get back home. Unseen and unsafe.