East of Elmgrove

Hope on Hope Street

The victim of a hit-and-run feels the kindness of strangers and finds power in community

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It’s a Wednesday afternoon, and I’m feeling good. I’m driving my brand-new Mazda CX-9 that my husband picked up at the dealership the night before. I’m enjoying the new car smell, how clean it is, and the fact that my kids haven’t left any stale French fries in it yet. I’m up on Hope Street, making a mental checklist: birthday gifts for my husband; maybe grab a onesie for my friend who is due soon; grab a salad at Three Sisters or coffee from Seven Stars. All the while, Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter” is blasting through the speakers.

I see a prime parking spot in front of Stock Culinary Goods, one of my favorite stores, especially when my oldest is at school and my youngest is at home with the grandparents. I can stop and enjoy shopping and not feel rushed or worry about toddler meltdowns. Everything is perfect in that moment.

I park without any trouble, put the car in park and then – BAM.

My arms move. My neck snaps back. I hit the headrest and hear a crunch. Tires squeal. I say to myself, But I’m parked. I’m in park.

I look to my right, and an older woman is asking, “Are you okay, dear?”

I look to my left, and a younger gentleman says, “You got hit. You can get out if you want to. Do you need help? I called 911.”

I’m frozen. My first thought: Okay, the kids aren’t with me, they’re safe. “Fighter” is still coming through the speakers. I open my car door and hear an awful “crunch” over the music, lyrics about making me learn a little bit faster, my skin a little bit thicker.

I stand in the street, shocked, scared, feeling nauseous. Not sure what to do, the gentleman stands with me and says, “The guy was flying. He hit you and kept going. My co-worker ran down the street to get his license plate.”

I mumble, “Thank you.”

A woman comes out, someone I know. She is the sister of Stock’s owner. She hugs me asks, “Did you call Nate yet? I can call him for you.”

The owner of Ivy Tavern walks out and hands me a water bottle, asking, “Would you like a burger?” I decline, feeling sick.

Employees from Pizzico pick up a wooden stake my car knocked over so pedestrians can use the sidewalk. My neighbor, who has just arrived to join my shopping trip, walks up and says, “That looks like Emily’s car.” Then, seeing me standing on the sidewalk, she realizes it is my car. It sinks in: I was just hit after having my brand-new car for less than 24 hours. It had 34 miles on it. As I think this, the owner from Rhody Craft runs over and gives me a gift card.

I’m so thankful that I’m okay. Not injured. Shaken up a bit, but overall, I’m okay. My car, not so much. The police officers are there within minutes. They have my car towed and tell me how to get it to my dealership. They tell me to call the car dealer and not to worry, they will take care of everything. I walked away with a small piece of paper. There’s my report number, and that’s it.

I was flying high that day. But I’m still flying high after the accident, because everyone around me came out to ask if I was okay, to ask what I needed. This is the power of community – shop owners offering to call my husband, police asking if I need a ride, strangers offering to give statements. I walk away unharmed, mentally full, because I’m not alone. There is still good in the world. There is still kindness. And soon, it’s just another afternoon on Hope Street.