"Accident"

This is taken from the Wednesday entry in my daily journal, slightly edited.

I was just in an accident.

On the way to school, riding down Preah Monireth, turning at OSK as usual, my bike was hit by a moto. Side-on.

It was both of our faults. I was taking advantage of what looked like a large gap after a car. I could see another moto further back but closer my visibility was blocked. He was going a little too fast, but not a lot too fast, trying to speed through the gap to catch up with the next group of cars and motos.

We both saw it about to happen. We both tried to stop…too late.

(It must have done something, because looking back it’s clear he hit the front of my bike. The front brake is broken, the handlebars don’t line up with the wheel, the basket is bent/broken all out of shape, and the things inside my backpack were crushed.)

We were both flung to the ground, me behind the scene of the accident (towards traffic), him in front. My helmet came off, but it was on when I fell. My bike was locked together with the moto, the front wheel stuck in the gear change pedal/lever.

As quickly as I could I jumped up, both to show that I was okay and to make sure oncoming traffic had stopped. They had—otherwise we might be in a much worse situation. I scooped up my helmet and moved over to the moto.

Miraculously I was basically unhurt. My hands were both scraped, and my right knee hurt. I had—have—one cut, on my left hand. If I myself had been hit it would have been so much worse. My pants didn’t even get ripped.

It really was fast. There was the anticipation, the moment of impact, a spin/turn, and then I was on the ground. And very quickly up again, since the ground wasn’t a safe place to be. There was no “life flashing before my eyes”, or any memories or thoughts outside the present, but other than that it was pretty much exactly like how it is in movies.

The other guy got up too. He was wearing gloves, a face mask or scarf to keep the dust out, and of course a helmet. I didn’t see any rips on his clothes either. I looked very apologetic—it was partly his fault, but right now I’m just worried that he might be hurt.

Wordlessly—well, I give one som do, “sorry”—wordlessly, we both start trying to pull my bike off his moto. The bike is surprisingly undamaged, the moto has a broken right mirror, maybe some other problems. I bring the bike over to the side of the road as the driver stands his moto up. It won’t start at first. I wait anxiously and awkwardly, to see if the moto’s okay, or if we exchange phone numbers now, or what. But he doesn’t look back. Finally the moto starts and he drives away.

I don’t think he was happy, but maybe he felt it was his fault too—he did hit me, not the other way around.

Looking around, I see that the people in the corner store are all watching—so are the people across the street. Of course. I smile, try to look okay, healthy, fine, and start walking down the street to PIO. (At least this all happened on the PIO side!) Eventually, I start riding again, carefully—that’s when I discover the problems with the brake, etc. I think about it, check myself over mentally…but really, I’m fine. I can work as usual.

When I get to school, I park my bike and wash my hands. I lift my pants leg and check my knee—no cut. So I move into the shade, kneel down, and put on a band-aid from my backpack, two other kids watching. One of my students noticed my backpack was dirty, and brushed it off for me. Weird that no one knows—all you can see is my band-aid and the dirt on my pants.

I didn’t text Jaclyn (who also works at PIO but is in the office in the mornings) or anyone else, cause I didn’t want to freak them out. What’s the point of telling people right now? I’m fine! …though I had to walk home at the end of the day (thanks for the company, Jaclyn).

I sit down on the pavilion/stage outside the school buildings, and write this. Many kids come by to ask what I’m doing (“Exam?”), or just to watch me write English so quickly—and so much (three pages in my notebook).

I could have been really hurt.

I AM TEELA BROWN.1

But, Teela Brown’s luck gave her a taste of danger so she could avoid it later. In the future, I have to be more careful and less daring on the streets of Phnom Penh.

“Phnom Penh Traffic” is still an upcoming blog topic, which might explain how this kind of thing can happen…but really, most of the time it doesn’t, and in fact the traffic mostly works itself out pretty well. Please don’t be too worried about me, or tell me to get the cut checked out—it’s tiny, I washed it off, and Mami put something on it already. I’m fine, I have insurance, and I’m not at all discouraged about the next four months.

  1. …but no one will understand that except my immediate family, some of Theatre Rice Sp10, a couple other friends, and a few sci-fi fans. ↩︎

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