After returning home to Albuquerque and getting my stitches out, I had a fairly uneventful rest of the summer. Then school started...the eighth grade, in my case.
I lived a fair distance from my middle school. It wasn't really too far to walk, but there was a busy intersection that had to be traversed on the way to and from school. When my sisters had attended school there, it was considered far enough away to warrant bus service. However, by the time I started, it wasn't.
This wasn't entirely a bad thing. There were several shops and grocery stores as well as a McDonald's along the route, so it made it convenient to grab a soda or snack on the way home. And I honestly did need the exercise, since I never was much into sports, growing up. All this being said, it still wasn't the safest way to travel...
Now, when I said that there was a busy intersection that had to be traversed, you would think I meant that it had to be traversed at the intersection, using the crosswalk. This, of course, would be a logical conclusion to draw, since that would be the safest way to cross the street.
As a kid, though, I was usually interested in the fastest, most convenient way to cross the street, not the safest. So, instead of crossing at the light, I would usually cut across the Alpha Beta parking lot and then jaywalk about a block up from where the light was. Unfortunately, on one early September afternoon, I didn't make it all the way across...
I suppose you could say I had been practicing over the summer for the main event in the fall. This particular day, there was a lot of traffic, and I grew impatient waiting to jaywalk, so I did something extremely stupid and ran between cars that were waiting for the red light to change to try and get to the median. Unfortunately, in the lane closest to the median, there was a Volkswagen approaching the light which I hadn't spotted that had NOT slowed down yet, since the lane he was in was not backed up as far as the middle lane.
Everything seemed to go into slow motion, which I have heard is common during accidents, and I was struck by the approaching car (BAM!) and landed on the median. In spite of my incredibly foolish jaywalking maneuver, I was lucky in two respects...the car that hit me was a Volkswagen Beetle (old style...this happened in 1981, remember) and the driver had been slowing down in preparation to stop, so he was only going about 20 mph when I was hit...the speed limit in that area was, and still is, 40 mph. Those factors almost certainly saved me from serious injury. I never lost consciousness after being hit.
The driver was really freaked out but seemed to be a nice enough guy who didn't yell at me for doing something stupid. He asked me what the date was, and I looked at my digital watch to determine that (a Casio, I think, and all the rage in my middle school) and told him, which he smiled at. The ambulance showed up shortly thereafter, along with my mother, who had somehow heard about me getting hurt on my way home from school. She later told me she was mighty panicked until she saw me talking to the driver while laying on the median, and then she figured I was probably okay.
After getting jabbed with an IV line and taking an uncomfortable ambulance ride strapped to a back board, I made it to the hospital. I had a much shorter wait to see the doctor than on either of my previous two middle school hospital experiences. I remember having fun giving a urine sample while still lying on the backboard in the emergency room. Based on the results of that sample, they decided to run another test on my kidneys.
I then got injected with some kind of dye via my IV that made my mouth taste all salty so they could scan my insides with an x-ray machine. It might have been a different type of diagnostic machine...I'm a little fuzzy on the details...but that test came back normal, and after x-raying me some more they determined that aside from a minor fracture in my right fibula (the small bone in your shin) I was fine, and didn't even need a cast. I did have lots and lots of bruises, though.
The doctor would normally have kept me overnight there, but he let me go home with my parents after securing a promise from my mother to check on my every two hours. I had trouble falling asleep but I think I eventually achieved slumber sometime after midnight. I was sore and walked with a limp for about a month, but I was able to return to school the following Monday (I can't remember for sure, but I think this happened on a Thursday or Friday afternoon.)
Evidently the principal at my middle school made an announcement about how important it was to use the crosswalk, using my accident as the reason why, and everybody quickly figured out which student was being referred to. Some kids started calling me as "Mr. Accident" but the novelty of that went away after a couple of weeks. Based on my previous experiences, it wasn't a completely inaccurate title, I have to admit. However, this would be the last time I went to the hospital until after high school, which I'm sure would have relieved my parents and their insurance company had they known it at the time.
As a side note, shortly after I finished middle school, the school district messed with their boundaries, and my parents' neighborhood switched to a different middle school, farther away. Kids once again got bus service to and from middle school, which continues to this day.