I got doored yesterday, for the first time.
The opening sentence could have described a much more unfortunate event than what actually happened.
I was rolling down the busy 18th Street. Slowly, barely a walking speed, because I was trying to get past the stop and go automobile traffic, too close to the parked cars on the right. I was watching my right closely for the sort of thing that happened on the left.
The passenger door of an SUV in traffic opened halfway; I only noticed it from within a couple of feet, hit the breaks, yelled “Morons!” and rode into the door edge with the left knee cap (that was the good one) and the top of the left hand. The bike didn’t fall. I didn’t fall. The hand was definitely whole. The knee hurt pretty badly, but, through skinny jeans, didn’t feel broken either. I dismounted and walked onto the curb and toward a side alley wall to get over the shock, maybe cry a little bit, before moving on.
Like I’ve said, as far as dooring goes, could have been much worse. I was back on the bike in a few hours, and mostly functional today, after lots of ice on the knee last night. The left knee joint doesn’t close painlessly all the way, and the knee is sensitive on the floor; the hand might bruise and swell a bit over the next few days; that’s all.
What I want to share though is the moving response of the people from the SUV.
What seems to have happened, automobile traffic and parking being what they were, the passenger figured he’d jump out of the car in the stop-and-go rather than waiting for a chance to pull over. He ran up to me, apologized, introduced himself, asked how I was. When we established that I wasn’t too broken, he offered his phone number in case I needed anything later; I declined. When I got over initial shock and started crying he hugged me. I apologized for yelling. He told me not to.
That was a busy corner. There could have been others who noticed the incident and stopped to observe. I’m not sure: I withdrew. We stood for a minute or so by the photogenic Women’s Building wall. A few folks on the other side were taking picture. Of us? Of the wall?
When I felt I could walk again, he walked off. A few other bystanders came up and asked if I was OK. The SUV pulled up by a curb past the alley; a lady got out of the car, walked up to me and asked how I was. When I said I was OK, she kindly said that of course I wasn’t, looked me over, observed that my hand was bruised, asked about the burn on my lip (from cooking a couple of days earlier), then asked if her husband gave me his phone number. “He offered,” I said. She wrote her name and number on a piece of paper and put it into my hand. I apologized to her for yelling as well. Like her husband earlier, she said, “don’t apologize”. She asked me about my day, asked if I needed her to stay with me or to walk with me somewhere, if she could call anyone. She had a small kid in the car the entire time. They all had places to go. I was upset, but otherwise not broken.
Now, most likely, I would have responded similarly in their place; perhaps, most people would. It appears though that automatically, sadly, I expect much worse: neglect at best; possibly, a follow up attack. Opposite of that, they offered me so much kindness, so much more than I ever expect to receive from strangers, no matter what circumstances.