Meeting My Inspiration Again


One sunny afternoon last week, I was resting in my recliner, listening to the drone of lawnmowers and whine of weeedwhackers as my landscapers did their weekly business in my yard. Suddenly, I heard a crash. This time, it wasn’t my garage door being smashed by a truck belonging to a patron of the day care center next door. It was a lawnmower colliding with a car in my neighbor’s driveway on the other side. I know this only because one of the landscapers, not knowing me, came to my door, thinking it was my driveway and my car.

According to a policeman who showed up a couple of hours later, the car sustained a lot of damage. I gave him the landscaping company’s phone number, and he gave me his card, saying he remembered asking me years ago if drivers were stopping to let me cross streets with my white cane. I couldn’t believe it.

In the fall of 2002, I was single and living in an apartment complex subsidized for seniors and people with disabilities. A registered music therapist, I was working in a nursing home. On a day off, I was walking home after my water exercise class at the YMCA. I’d just jaywalked in front of my building and stopped to talk to a neighbor in a wheelchair when she told me there was a policeman behind me. I turned around and there he was, on a bicycle.

Where had he come from? Had he seen me jaywalk? Was I about to get a ticket, my first ever brush with the law?

To my surprise and relief, he asked me if I was having difficulty crossing streets because drivers weren’t stopping. I told him that as long as I used four-way and other intersections where drivers were required by law to stop, I rarely had a problem. I also explained that I couldn’t see well enough to get the license plates from offending vehicles. He said he would bring up the issue at roll call and rode away.

Now, I was again flustered, even though I’d done nothing wrong this time. All I could tell him was that our first meeting had inspired my first novel. I should have given him my card, but I didn’t. He probably thought I was nuts and wished he’d given me that ticket for jaywalking years ago. In any case, we parted amicably enough.

After I posted about this incident on Facebook, someone asked if the story would continue. That remains to be seen. I may never see that officer again, but I’ll always have the memory of how our first meeting inspired We Shall Overcome.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
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Sins of the Parents

Late last Thursday afternoon, I was in my office, working on my new novel, when I heard a vehicle with a diesel engine pull into my driveway. I live next door to a day care center, and some parents park at the bottom of my driveway momentarily while picking up or dropping off their kids. I paid no attention to this diesel engine’s rumbling until a few minutes later when I heard a crash.

I stepped outside my kitchen door and noticed that a big, black truck had bashed in my garage door. There appeared to be no action around the truck, but because of my limited vision, I couldn’t tell for sure. Not knowing what else to do, I called 911.

As it turned out, a little girl of about four or five was in the back seat of the truck with her seat belt on when the truck crashed into my garage door. Her parents were apparently inside the day care center, having left her alone in the truck. The good news is that the driver’s insurance will no doubt cover the cost of repairing my garage door.

This reminded me of an incident that happened years ago when I was about the same age as this child. We were living in Tucson, Arizona, at the time. My mother and I stopped one evening at a small market on our way home from somewhere.

When we pulled into the store’s parking lot which sloped up to the entrance, my mother turned off the ignition and asked me if I wanted to go in with her or stay in the car. I opted to stay in the car, but after a few minutes, I was bored, so I went inside and found my mother.

When we came out, we discovered that the car had rolled to the edge of the parking lot near the busy street. Naturally, my mother thought I’d been in the car when it rolled, but I assured her I hadn’t. I had only wandered into the store because I was bored.

I’m thankful now that I did. If I’d stayed in the car, and it rolled, it would definitely have been a frightening experience. I’m sure this child was just as scared, especially with a crazy lady, me, running around the truck yelling, opening the driver’s side door to find no one there, closing it, then disappearing.

After I posted about the incident on Facebook, a friend commented that Social Services needed to know about this. I reasoned, though, that if the policeman who responded to my 911 call thought it was necessary to notify Social Services, he would have done so. Besides, if Social Services were called, and the child was removed to a foster home, that would have been more traumatic than being in a rolling vehicle that collided with a garage door. Also, since my mother left me alone in a car when I was a child, I don’t want to be the one to cast the first stone.

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

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