Tuesday May 13, 2003

a car landed in my front yard today.

i was taking a nap of exhaustion, you know, the kind where you can’t keep your eyes open and flop onto your bed.  georgeann had come up from houston and we had stayed up til 4am talking last night.

suddenly i heard a loud bang, kind of sounded like someone had dropped something in the living room or something or maybe let the screen door bang REALLY loud.  trying to ignore it and remain asleep, i started to hear some yelling and a woman screaming. 

oh no, something bad happened.  sadly, one of my first instincts was ugh, i want to go back to sleep, i don’t want to care.  but something else got me out of bed and to the front door where i realized the reason i could hear the woman was that she was in my front yard.  a gold car had run a stop sign on my cross-street, her white car had hit it, and both cars ended up in two different front yards.  it was rather surreal – my across-the-street-neighbor, hazel, was on the phone with 911.  I called too, just in case.

the little girl from the other car was on the grass in the other front yard, there was a small crowd gathering.  EMS had said not to move the people.  i found out from a couple folks in my front yard what had happened.  both air bags in the white car had deployed.  there was glass all over from windshields and lights. 

EMS seemed to do a good job.  tow trucks had to come pull the cars out of their respective yards.

in the end, the paramedics said that all 3 people were sorta ok – none in critical condition.  they were really banged up, but they were all wearing seatbelts. 

i learned a few things in my neighborhood today.

the fire trucks come very quickly.  2 fire trucks, 3 ambulances, and 3 police cars.

apparently, you’re not supposed to move someone who’s been in a bad car accident before the paramedics come. 

i’m still a foreigner to most of white America.  the officer in charge (an older guy) was talking to me about how they were going to get the car out – we joked a little about how it was important to stop at stop signs… another fire fighter came over with some water for him.  he started joking too, and the older guy mentioned something about how the new guy had an accent.  randomly, the guy with the accent (australian) asked me where i’m from – i offhandedly said i grew up in virginia, and told him about my british and australian cousins and how we all speak english really funny.  after some talk about australia he came back to that seemingly innocuous ‘where are you from?’  ‘my parents are from hong kong,’ i said, trying to be nonchalant.  how many times have i answered that question with that same yucky sinking feeling?  an innocent question perhaps, but to me, it communicates ‘people like you aren’t from here.  you don’t belong. it’s obvious you don’t by the way you look’.  me, in my rice shorts and nike t-shirt.  with my fine american english.  can you hear me?  are you even listening?  or are you just focused on the color of my hair or shape of my eyes?

on seeing him, no one would ask him where he’s from, because he’s a white guy. but what i find truly ironic is that if you could only hear us talking – everyone would know that he was the real foreigner. 

when confronted with the reality of pain and hurt in my front yard, it is all very real.  sounds obvious, doesn’t it.  but a few weeks ago one of my roommates was telling me about a situation where she and some friends saw a man get hit by a car crossing the street.  she was saying how traumatic it was to see that happen right in front of her.  and i guess, i started thinking how it is that when something is right in front of us, it is much easier to care, or be shook up.  but when we see it on tv, or read it in the news, it’s a lot easier to not care.  as i sat on my front step thinking about property values and how i need to drive more carefully in my neighborhood, i also wondered what it is like in other parts of the world, where random pain and hurt is an everyday thing.  where bombs can land in the front yard… and do a lot more damage.  i am glad that God is growing my heart for people far from my front yard who are feeling pain… but sometimes it’s tiring.

maybe that’s why God is so good at caring for people in need – it’s all His front yard.


3 thoughts on “Tuesday May 13, 2003

  1. fonger

    Car accidents are always painful. I saw an SUV turnover a couple of times once, after it ran over a curb. I really thank God too that he gave us a part of his heart for the world’s suffering. I was talking to someone about how God instituted the first poverty programs where the Israelites weren’t allowed to harvest the corners of their fields…maybe it was with you or Nathan or Sam CHeng.

    Also, I hate it when the recurring question, “where are you from,” comes up. I just want to punch someone or something when it happens, and tell teh other person to leave my sight. It isn’t fair.

  2. macewoo

    Sadly, I relate to the “sleeping person on the bed while stuff is going on around me”.  Time for me to get up, look around, and help out.

    I never seem to have a problem with the question “where you from?” I always assume they are asking what city or such…But the term oriental does bother me a bit…I can’t help feel like a rug when someone asks me what kind of oriental I am.


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