People often find the phrase ‘near miss’ confusing, because it seems to describe a situation that was a hit – nearly a miss. In fact, the phrase refers to misses that are almost hits. I was reminded of a few of these this morning.
Years ago, I wanted to enter an intersection with a right turn. A car was inching across the intersection on my left. When the guy waved vigorously at me to proceed, I drove in at the same time that that car surged forward. We slammed on our brakes for a near miss. At once, I made a resolution: only the driver of a car can wave me to go ahead; not, as in this case, the damn passenger.
A few years later I came to a stop at the intersection nearest our home. It was 2:50 pm, a time when little kiddies flood the streets. A policeman guarded this intersection, and he waved me across. I refused to move, and he screwed his face up in anger, waving me to go ahead, or else! I shook my head ‘no’ and pointed. After he looked back and saw the ambulance crossing behind him with its lights flashing, he gave me a sheepish “all right.”
Which brings us to this morning.
The garbage truck was on our block in the middle of the road. One guy was at the verge on my left, next to the truck, looking at a big garbage can. The other guy stood behind the truck and waved me ahead. There was room to pass the truck on its left if I drove carefully, so I did, smashing down on the brakes when the first guy grabbed the can and stepped in front of me. You could tell by the look he gave me that he had no idea his “pal” had waved me on.