This I Believe

Bill - Lake Linden, Michigan
Entered on March 1, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe I should be dead right now, but for a woman’s smile.

At exactly 4:14 p.m. on Thursday (March 1), I left a video store in Houghton, Michigan where I live after renting a movie. By that hour the region was already in the middle of a blizzard. Nasty winds, horizontal snow, and drifting.

After leaving the store, it took a minute to get in my small four-door hatchback, start it up, and prepare to leave.

But as I started to pull away, a dark-haired woman walked past the front of my car, looked at me through the windshield and smiled. “What a nice smile,” I thought to myself. “I wonder if I know her? She doesn’t look familiar. No, I don’t think I know her.” I could see her bare hands and noticed on her finger what probably was a wedding ring. When you’re single and age 50, you notice things like smiling women and rings on fingers.

By my own calculation, this entire episode took exactly two seconds. The woman’s smile lasted one second and my consideration of that smile lasted another second. But this stranger’s smile was like a cool breeze on a hot summer day, and it caused me to relax. It caused me to slow down for a moment.

My drive down the road continued, albeit just slightly delayed. Long before I approached the intersection of the highway, the traffic signal in my lane had turned green and I didn’t need to even brake. How lucky, I thought. I can go right across. I was relaxed, not rushing things, and feeling content.

It’s only a blur now, but a dark-colored pick-up truck in a perpendicular lane blasted through his red light. The truck was moving quick, going at least 50 miles per hour in the 45-mile-hour zone.

Had I arrived at the intersection exactly two seconds earlier, it would have been a wicked-good crash. The truth is, being hit broadside in my small car by a speeding truck, I likely would have been killed. And if I was really lucky, I would only been maimed.

To the driver of the truck I’d like to think you are remorseful. Indeed, it was just not your lucky day. You didn’t kill anyone. But I have every confidence in you, that if you continue to drive as haphazardly as you did on Thursday, it won’t be long before that happens.

But I believe nothing bad happened to anyone because a woman smiled at me. I also believe that right now I’m smiling back at her. Whoever you are, thank you.