I was tootling along in my innocuous Honda minivan, possibly singing, when my life flashed in front of my eyes.
As it does.
A montage of really good stuff, actually. Kind of like the Sports Center Highlights Reel, only the soundtrack wasn't great: just my own voice, repeating a filthy variant of "Oh, fiddlesticks!"
Flinging open his door, the driver jumped out and assumed the classic shooter's stance: dominant arm outstretched, holding, with the other supporting, legs square, eye to the sight. The tiny, deadly, dark circle of muzzle pointing at me.
It's a testimony to hundreds of thousands of years of evolution that adrenaline hits the system quicker than the brain can process the need for it. I was already ducking a little (as if my steering wheel would offer any real cover!) before the thought of how fiddlestickingly stupid this was as a way to go: death by sniper.
Adrenaline grants the sensation of time dilation. My irritability about gun culture was accompanied almost simultaneously by a fleeting regret about the very LONG list of things left that I'd hoped to accomplish. And the lightning-flash reel of life highlights.
And then, quicker than a blink, I processed the shooter's details: a fit man in a tan uniform, sunglasses hiding half of his dark face, the light shining off what I really, really hoped was a lawman's badge. I hoped that he wasn't a man in the grips of mental illness, uniform or no. And then, the last thing I recognized: the hair-dryer shape of a radar gun.
Half of South Tampa passed before my heart stopped racing like a rabbit.
I was horrified not simply by the experience but by how I interpreted the situation without the slightest doubt or hesitation.
It felt inevitable that I would be a victim of random gun violence. Of course a shooting was going to happen. A shooting is always going to happen. Why not on the Lee Roy Selmon on that morning? Why not to me?
Weeks later, still trying to find the funny, I consider the radar gun. My minivan's speedometer tops out at 160 miles per hour, which offers a nice element of the ridiculous ("But officer, I seriously forgot to pick up the kids! At Pit Row!").