One night I responded to an injury collision at a freeway off ramp. When I got there, I saw two crashed cars in the intersection and the southbound lanes of the street were blocked.
There was something in the street I had never seen before. One of the drivers was sitting in a lawn chair. I’d seen a lot of things in my time as an officer, but never a chair in the street with an injured person sitting in it. I later found out the witness had taken a chair out of her trunk and gave it to the driver to sit in.
The woman looked to be about 60 years old. She had a frail look about her by the way she sat in the chair. She was leaning to the side and looked to be in lot of pain.
I asked her what happened while she was still sitting in the chair. She answered my questions in a way that made it look like she was older than she appeared. She was either very frail or had a pre-existing condition that was aggravated by the collision.
There was a man standing next to the woman the entire time. He looked to be in his mid-30s. When I was done with the interview I wrote the report number down on a card. I decided to hand the card to the male because I assumed he was the woman’s son.
I looked at the man and asked, “Are you her son?”
“She’s my wife,” he replied with a funny look.
“Oh, you look good for your age.” I said as I tried to turn a negative into a positive.
That’s when the woman in the chair said, “Are you saying I look old?”
The witness started laughing in the background as she put her hand up to her mouth. I turned toward the woman in the chair and said the first thing that popped into my head.
“Wow, that got awkward. Here’s the report number and call your insurance company.”
There wasn’t much left for me to do or say after that so I walked over to the officer who was helping me with the paperwork and asked, “How old is she?”
I found out the woman was only in her early-40s. I stood there and asked one of the firefighters how old he thought the woman was. He estimated she was about 60 years old. I then asked another firefighter and he gave the same answer. Now I didn’t feel so bad.
Of course, I told them what happened to me and they laughed at how I put my foot in my mouth.
You never know what’s going to happen out on the street.