Back in college, I had this sweet job nannying for a well-to-do family. They paid me lots of money to haul their two daughters to and from various after school activities, to pick up their dry cleaning, and run errands all over the city. They had a beautiful house in which I got to spend much of my free time – they were basically my family away from home. Right next door to them lived this very lovely elderly couple. By “elderly” I mean they must have been well into their 80s. I rarely saw the wife, but the husband was always out and about, tinkering in the garage or doing yard work or something. He was always very sweet, though we probably never said more than “how are you today?” to each other.
One thing you should know about me before I continue this story is that I have a very soft spot in my heart for the elderly. In high school I worked in a nursing home helping the residents get dressed, bathe (yes, bathe), eat, and so on. I love old people and would never do them harm – even the ones that used to kick me and call me names, and even the ones who tried to hit on me while I was changing their diapers (and yes, that happened frequently, and no, an old man in a diaper is not the least bit tempting).
So anyway, one day the younger daughter needed to get to her tap dance lessons, and she was taking her sweet time getting out the door. I was waiting in the car, getting impatient. She finally gets out to the car, and I start backing down the long driveway, being careful not to hit the garbage cans that were at the end of the drive on my left hand side. I was being so careful....but only when it came to the trash bins, as it turned out. On my right side, had I paid much attention to that as I backed up, was Mr. Sweet Elderly Man (I can’t remember his name, so sue me), mowing the lawn on his riding lawn mower (THANK GOD IT WAS A RIDER). He had those ear muff things on that protect your ears from loud noises, so he couldn’t hear me coming, and I am a jerkball, so I didn’t see him there.
You can probably guess what happened: I hit him. I hit him pretty hard. The daughter was all “OMIGOD YOU HIT MR. S.E.M.!!!”, which was clear to me, and not very helpful to the situation. I immediately got out of the car and started apologizing profusely. He didn’t take his ear muffs off – just motioned to me that it was no big deal. “ARE YOU SURE? I HIT YOU! I HIT YOU WITH MY CAR!!!!” And off he went, mowing again, like nothing had happened.
It took me a LONG time to face that sweet old man again. I made the daughter swear never to tell her parents. I thought nearly killing the neighbor might be grounds for dismissal - I mean, who really wants their kids riding around with a woman who's committed vehicular manslaughter?