I am driving into work on a Friday morning. I am on the inside section of the Parkway coming into town. The Parkway is two lanes wide and I am in the left lane coming up to a light. The light is green. In the right hand lane, a SEPTA bus is stopped at the light to pick up passengers. I am passing the bus on the left when a bike rider pedals out from the front of the bus directly into the middle of the lane in front of me. I am going 25 mph. He can’t be more than fifteen feet in front of me.
I shriek as I stomp on the pedal. My SUV skids forward.
The rider is wearing a red helmet. He has a tuft of red hair under his lower lip. He doesn’t deign to acknowledge my car hurtling at him. He lazily moves forward and then, inexplicably, comes to a dead stop in the middle of the lane, broadside to me.
The skid takes hours. I won’t be able to stop in time. The biker appears to see me, but his expression remains one of utter indifference and detachment. I am thinking I am about to detach him from his bicycle with the impact of a 4,000 pound SUV smashing into his hip, leg, ankle and foot.
I come to a stop; I am within a foot of the biker. He pedals forward, never looking at me. He doesn’t give me even the slightest nod of recognition that my quick reactions and heavy foot on the brake just saved his life. He simply pedals on.
I am vibrating like a tuning fork.
The SEPTA bus on my right starts up. I am now blocking traffic. There doesn’t seem to be anything I can do. I put my foot back on the pedal and go forward, ineffectually, to another Friday at work.
– Jay Duret
“Friday Commute” originally appeared in Boston Literary Magazine