I doubt many of us suffer from a life that is too perfect. If we could just add one more thing… I was driving home from work and I saw her, 18 or 19, perfect, untouched by the world, jogging up the hill I took to work. She was wearing tight-fitting spandex and I was wearing khaki pants and a collared shirt. I was the perfect student who became the perfect teacher. Rigidity ruled my life, so that everything in it could be measured and quantified.
The PE Teacher I worked with was slovenly and unmotivated—everyone liked him, including his boss, who was my boss, who didn’t like me. I had so many rules to be right, but most people like someone who is wrong, who always makes a few mistakes. My evaluation was right now.
“Tom, you’re a perfectionist, the kids don’t like you, I don’t like you, you need to lighten up. This is a school, relationships come first, we don’t want robots.”
I had so much rage inside, but all I could say was, “yes sir.”
I tried to act more human, but the kids laughed at me.
I got into my pickup and drove home, but before I got there, I saw that girl, running alongside the road. How was it that I tried to be perfect, but could never be; she never had to try, and simply was? Then I blacked out, and my truck swerved across the fog line and shattered her like a crystal glass.
When my head hit the steering wheel, my truck landed in the ditch, and I woke up. What had I done? There she was and it didn’t look good. I checked her pulse. Nothing. Her life was gone. It left in a second. And I was responsible. Half of her body was lying in the ditch, so I pushed the other half in.
There were no cameras. No one came to talk to me. When people would find her, perhaps they would treat this like a deer hit on the road. I would resume my regular schedule, but the next day the road was taped off. A state trooper in a green hat approached my vehicle.
“Do you take 34th Street often?” He asked.
“On my way to work.”
“A young girl was killed. She was bruised by the license plate that hit her. We don’t have the full plate, but let me check your rig.” He disappeared below my hood. “Did you hit a deer?”
“My mother did. This is her car.”
“Oh, well let me take a picture of your plate.” He stood back and snapped. I had told my mother my car needed repairs. What if I had taken my truck? It would be a life sentence.
At my office, I sat down at my desk, but I couldn’t focus. The paperwork seemed like calculus. Health Histories were not important when my own life was on the line. So, I waited out my time and went home. The next day, police were checking parking lot security cameras, specifically the one pointed at my truck.
“Can you zoom in?” An officer asked the secretary.
“Sure,” she said in a bubbly voice.
“That’s a match. The girl’s bruise fits the license plate. Now where is Tom Johnson?”
“He’s standing behind you.”
“Oh, kind of a creepy fellow, huh. Well… I guess I’d better read you your rights.” Cold cuffs tightened around my wrists, choking my circulation. I couldn’t breathe. Then I woke up.