Nearly an hour had passed, but I was deeply engaged in a conversation with friends about the plights of the world and particularly my strong opinions as we waited in line for a super popular ramen restaurant that had seats for just over 25 people. Who knows what I was being cynical about—whether it was the state of the world (not great) or about whether we should fight back in mugging (consensus: yes, of course while evaluating personal safety, and if the girl with you is deeply appalled, she probably wasn’t the right one anyway). It was chilly so I had the hood of my wool jacket on, hovering near the restaurant windows like a skulking pedestrian. Then we heard the sound of glass shattering. I felt something hit my head—hard, but not that hard because it felt like someone’s hand just smacking my head for attention. But like all my moments of unexpected events, I froze like a deer in headlights.
We looked up to see a shattered window. Being that we were in the tenderloin and in an urban city, the first thing that crossed mind was a fight. A fight that as a voyeur, I wanted to see. But it wasn’t. It was a woman who was trying to open her second-story window of her apartment. It was stuck, so she put some elbow grease and leaned her elbow against the glass. The window frame didn’t budge, but the glass did and it cut her hand.
I felt quite conscious and very alive—although it was later that I fell into an anxiety of whether I could have died as a silly foodie waiting over an hour just to eat ramen customized for San Francisco with kale.
“Everyone okay?” someone said.
I touched my face to make sure that I was okay.
Stunned, we all stepped aside from the glass. Someone pointed to a guy’s face where he was bleeding. “Get some antiseptic!” someone yelled into the crowded restaurant.
A server came outside to sweep the glass. The couple came downstairs to explain the situation. The woman said that they needed to go the hospital. And the guy insisted that if we wanted to sue anyone, we better get the information of his landlord. “I told him for months that our window wouldn’t open,” he said. “It must be the weather that made the glass swell.”
“Your eyelid,” a friend said. “It’s bleeding.”
“Is it?” I said and touched it.
“Go to the bathroom and check,” Chris said.
So I reluctantly dragged myself inside the restaurant. “Sorry,” I said opening the bathroom to find the other bleeding guy staring at the mirror and dabbing his face with a towel. “I am just checking whether I am bleeding.”
I stared at the mirror and just saw a small speck, barely noticeable. Later, after I took a shower, the blood swept away and I couldn’t even find the source of the cut at all.
We carefully brushed the glass shards off ourselves, shaking our jackets and sweatshirts. “Are you okay?” a friend asked again.
The guy told everyone below to move away from the window as he cleaned out all the remaining glass. The woman said, “Wear gloves!”
And we watched as more glass shards fell, crashing onto the pavement below.
I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel. Grateful? Numb? Apathetic? Angry? Sad? But surprisingly as we sat down, I was overcome with a feeling of coincidence. I am one of those people who can’t help but click on click-baity headlines. I will read “Ten ways people died from a freak accident including one you never expect”. I have read all of them. The fallen tree during the storm that crushed a woman on a golf course. Then there are the miracles. The time the large screws or metal objects fell from the temporary Bay Bridge, but miraculously didn’t hit any cars. I thought about an irrational fear lately which is being T-boned as a passenger or driver of a car. I echoed all of this suddenly to a friend whose father experienced a debilitating disease and his dog likely diagnosed with brain cancer. “I have been thinking of that too,” he said.
What if a large glass shard had fallen and hit my head with its sharp point? What if? I worried that I could be on tip of losing my mind as I had watched a friend lose his grip on reality after a traumatic bike accident? I didn’t want to be the person who was consumed with anxiety of living a regular life. “That’s dangerous,” that friend said, his voice rising in desperate anxiety.
There are moments that I have felt in the past year where I think that I could stare at home all day. I’ll be fine right here in my bed. I’ll be fine just eating the same thing from my refrigerator. And yet, I would miss the thrill of life right outside. I live in the city not because I am an extroverted person, requiring people all the time. But I deeply enjoy the convenience. The fact that people are outside within reach. I hear the roar of cars whizzing on the street. I hear the click-clakety of heels as people walk down the street. And yes, I still love my bike as I fly down Valencia, weaving, pumping my legs. I love the walk and the discovery of new things.
Earlier that day, a friend and I was feasting on chocolate at a parklet. Somehow instantly, a glass was thrown and shattered. We turned to find the source of the noise. There was the glass, yes. But who threw it? Was it the guy who deliberately dropped it? Or did someone throw it at him? Where did it come from? Nobody was around, but it was all to strange.
This morning, I googled, “Do people die from a shower of falling glass?” hoping that the Internet would answer my question. Instead, I only found stories of people falling to their death out the windows. A lawyer fell to his death as he was showing fellow law students that the glass windows of his high office building was unbreakable. But with his extra run and force, the glass window popped out and he fell to his death. I told myself that I would never be that stupid. But then again, it’s all luck isn’t it? To have been standing under the apartment window right at that moment?
I rarely win anything drawn by the lottery. But yesterday, I was in the right place at the right time. Isn’t that the summary of life anyway?