Just got back from the local ER after a pretty eventful night. We were spending the day with some friends visiting from Maryland and I dropped them, along with my family, off at a restaurant in Southampton, PA and went to park the car. After waiting a bit for a nearby space (it’s really cold out right now), I pulled in and saw a sign indicating 45 minute parking only, so pulled out. I saw a spot that was open in the next lane over, so quickly went to grab it before it got taken, and before rounding the bend saw a woman walking several feet from my car and I passed her by. When I got to the next lane in the parking lot, I saw this 45-ish, guy with a beer belly in a red shirt and white hat running towards my car yelling that I had “almost hit” his wife with my car and he started punching my window as I passed, demanding that I get out so we could have it out. I started driving away, but realized everyone I had come with was inside the restaurant so I had to come back, and even if I parked a bit away, someone deranged enough to punch my car window is probably crazy enough to smash my car windows if I made it inside. So I turned down another lane heading back towards the restaurant hoping to find a place to park and wait for the guy to just leave before I left my vehicle. But he was waiting for me, and again came up to the car and punched the windows on the driver side, so hard I thought he was either going to smash a window or fracture his hand. I started driving off again to avoid a confrontation, but then just came to a dead stop a few feet away hoping that my stopping would call his bluff and he’d walk away. But he didn’t. He started hitting my car again, demanding I get out (to duel like gentlemen?). I rolled down my window a little bit and told him to stop hitting my car or else I’d call 911. He said go ahead. I whipped out my iPhone and started to dial when he opened my door (note to self: when confronted by a deranged, possibly dangerous individual, step one is to make sure the friggin car is locked). At that point he punched me twice in the face, nice and hard. I felt a lot of blood running down, but didn’t have any sense of what the extent of the injuries was at that point. But I did slam the door closed and locked it (finally) and dialed 911. He stood there, joined by his wife who didn’t exactly do much of anything, and told me to “go ahead and call 911.” While I was on the phone with the police dispatch, a police car pulled up behind me (a witness had already called the police) and as I was telling my story from my car to the police officer, the crazy white dude and his wife must have walked away (so much for “go ahead and call the cops”). However, the police officer’s companion in a second car stopped him before his car left the parking lot. There were witnesses and they also gave their accounts to the police. I finally got a look in the mirror at what happened and it was pretty ugly-a lot of blood everywhere, a large right-sided inner lip laceration, copious blood and clots dripping from my right nostril, some minor superficial lacerations near the bridge of my nose, and a ton of pain and crepitus over the bridge of my nose consistent with a nasal fracture.
Meanwhile, no one from my family or friends inside the restaurant knew this was going on. While I had been waiting for the cop to come back to my car with instructions, I did the normal thing while waiting with little to do but bleed: I sent out a quick tweet on my iPhone. This was followed by a ton of really generous messages of concern, including several from folks I don’t know but who either were in the area and noticed a local tweet or who must have seen this on the public timeline for twitter. My daughter Arielle had gotten concerned about how long I was taking to park and asked my wife to call, which she did and immediately came outside after I told here what was going on.
Got into the restaurant and tried to get things cleaned up. My coat was pretty bloody, as were my jeans, and the blood still was coming out so I figured it was best to go to an ER. I went to Abington, where I was seen very quickly and professionally. There’s nothing much to do-nasal fractures just have to heal on their own, lip lacerations generally aren’t sutured (I did suture someone’s inner cheek once as an intern, but perhaps that was the practice then, or perhaps some of us did stuff like that for practice?), and nosebleeds just have to be dealt with in terms of supportive care unless really bad. So for now, I’m taking amoxicillin for the lip laceration (probably not needed, but as I’m flying to Mexico in the AM for work, I really don’t want to try to deal with pus coming out of my mouth in another country or even another state for that matter), packing some kleenex for the flights tomorrow, and putting ice on my face. Hopefully I can get to sleep in a little bit because I’m really tired and need to get up early.
One thing that didn’t surprise me, but that was very nice to see was how fast word disseminates via twitter and Facebook (I had initially only posted about this on twitter, but I got talked into posting on FB as well because, as my wife put it, “You post everything on Facebook that you’re doing-doesn’t this count?”). And we’re not talking about an Iranian revolution-level event here, just a simple assault. Social media, for all its faults, can work really well when major events happen. That’s important to keep in mind the next time someone belittles social media as “just a bunch of teenagers sending crap over the Internet about what they’re eating.”
Some other important points: I chose not to take this guy on outside of my car. Sure, it would have felt good to fight back, but in all honesty, let’s ditch the macho stuff; someone who felt the need to hit a car window with enough force to almost shatter it would have been perfectly comfortable doing the same to me with his fists. Or, if he were packing, with firearms. Also, it occurred to me afterwards that it would have been helpful to either photograph this guy (in case he eluded the police) or else videotape the situation after I had been hit and locked the door. Hindsight is always clear, and fortunately there were witnesses (and the volume of blood in my car and not in the parking lot should make it pretty clear that I hadn’t gotten out to fight with him and was obviously assaulted in my own vehicle). But as someone told me via Twitter, I could have had a viral YouTube video had I gotten a video on my iPhone.
My nose hurts. I have to be up early. So I’m going to bed. Ice awaits.