Tuesday, May 21, 2024 May 21, 2024
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OPEN LETTER TO THE DRUNK GUY WHOSE LIFE I TRIED TO SAVE FRIDAY NIGHT

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I’ve been anguishing over this all weekend. Still unsure that I handled it correctly. For Those Who Care:

Paul and I had a man-date of sorts on Friday. I was coming home around 2 a.m., having just gotten my fill of smoky goodness at the Lakewood Landing. At the intersection of La Vista and Alderson, right before you get to Gaston, there was an SUV, perhaps a Nissan Xterra, sitting in the road. Its front tires had come to rest against the curb. It looked as if the driver had been headed down La Vista, tried to turn onto Alderson, and then just gave up halfway through the turn. I couldn’t tell if he’d slammed into the curb or what. The engine was running.

I sat at the light for a second, sizing up the situation. When it turned green, I pulled over and got out to see what was what. I approached from the rear, passenger side, and when I came around to the driver’s side, I could see that the guy had his door open. He was spitting. A few more steps and I could see vomit on his floorboard. Nice.

I said, “Hey, buddy, you okay?”

He was alone. He just stared at me. I repeated the question. Still no answer. Just spitting.

“Listen,” I said, “you don’t look so good. How far from here do you live?”

He said he lived nearby. Slurring.

“Let me drive you home. I’ll walk back to my car. Seriously, man. I don’t want you to get hurt.”

I went through this exchange twice, asking him again where he lived, again offering to drive him home. Then he shut his door. But he don’t go anywhere.

So I turn to go back to my car, figuring I’ve got no choice now but to call the cops. Another car had pulled up to see if they could help. Two girls. “He’s drunk,” I told them. “He can barely talk. And he’s got vomit all over his floorboard. I think he pulled over to throw up and didn’t make it. I offered to drive him home, but he won’t take the help.” Now reaching for my cell phone. “I hate to be the snitch who sends the guy to jail, but he’s in no shape to drive.”

The Xterra was still sitting there. “Let me try again,” I said. “You guys don’t leave yet.”

I went back to the guy’s window and knocked on it. At this point, he was slumped forward, fiddling with his cell phone. “Hey!” I said, knocking. “Buddy, you need help. You haven’t even moved your car. Let me drive you home.”

At which point, he threw it in reverse, nearly backed into the two girls, and then took off down La Vista.

I thanked the two girls for stopping to help and put my phone back in my pocket. Didn’t see the use of calling the cops at that point.

What bugs me is that I feel like I should have been able to stop the guy. He was smaller than me. I could have reached into the car and just turned it off. I could have been more persistent, forced him to call a friend to come pick him up. I don’t know. I avoided the local news the next day, fearing I’d learn about a drunk-driving accident in the area involving an Xterra.

To the guy in the Xterra: I hope you got home okay. If you did, I hope you realize how lucky you are. Lucky that I wasn’t a cop. Lucky that you didn’t kill yourself or someone else. Next time, don’t drive drunk. And take help when someone offers it.

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