As a matter of fact, I do enjoy traveling for my job and yes, it gives me the opportunity to travel to our country’s largest cities which on Facebook probably gives the impression I’m always on a vacation. No, I’m simply a dashboard tourist snapping shots while I sit in the passenger seat.
Honestly, it’s not all that glamorous. Life on the road can put me in circumstances one might prefer not to experience. Like sleeping on a bench in Chicago’s O’Hare airport because of flight delays and cancellations. Traffic jams, scary parking ramps, going down the wrong way on a one-way. Or witnessing an assault.
Today my colleague and I were at a dead stop in traffic in downtown San Francisco when we witnessed a brutal beating. It started and was over in a matter of seconds. And everyone including ourselves watched helplessly, stunned. No one honked their horns, no one hollered HEY or STOP. We all just sat quietly as we witnessed violence 10 feet away. I locked our car doors and when it was all over I called the police. A pedestrian on the sidewalk stopped to help the victim as the suspect ran off. The pedestrian was screaming for someone to get napkins from the nearby coffee shop as the victim lay bleeding. I offered up a blanket we had in the back of the car. As the traffic inched ahead we sat traumatized and listened as the sirens got closer. I waved a group of cars out of the way to allow for the ambulance and police to get to the corner of Bush and Montgomery in San Francisco’s financial district.
We saw the entire incident from start to finish, two men, mid twenties walking down the street in the same direction when suddenly one turns around and attacks the other with a broken bottle. I’ll spare you the details of the injuries the victim endured.
We sat in wonder. Was the victim in the wrong place at the wrong time? Why didn’t anyone try and stop the suspect? Did the victim do something blocks earlier and the attacker came back after him? Was the suspect just trying to steal the victims cell phone? And what about those on foot passing by as the victim lay bleeding, has our society become immune to violence today and when you see it you look the other way and keep going? Where is the compassion for human life?
Fortunately we had finished our final appointment of the day and were heading out of the city. You can’t just brush something like that off and move forward like nothing ever happened. We were shaken to our core and the incident kept playing over and over and over in our heads.
I have a lot of stories to tell after 25 years of business travel, believe me, mostly funny experiences. But nothing like today. I came to San Francisco in hopes of feeling a mild earthquake, I never dreamed I’d be a witness to a violent crime. Life on the road, you just never really know what you’re in store for.
Safe travels my fellow road warriors!