So I do a lot of things - I raise two girls, I husband like crazy, I edit company newsletters, I take high-quality radiographs, I do laundry and dishes, I grocery shop, I take care of the trash. Hell, I even sometimes clean a toilet.
I also occasionally save kids' lives.
Today, Sophie and I were on our morning walk in the bitter cold of a February morning, when I looked to my right and saw a very young toddler in nothing but PJs waddling around in front of a house. I did a kind of double take, looking around briefly for a parent, but saw none in sight. The front door of the house was firmly shut.
Looking back on it now, I don't know why I didn't stop right away, but I think it's because I've been taught by society not to be too attentive to children I don't know. After all, to a random mother, I'm just a strange man on the sidewalk. In any case, I kept on walking, assuming that a parent must be around somewhere and I just didn't see them.
I didn't get more than a few steps from the kid when I saw, up ahead at the next house, a mother running out a door, clearly looking for her kid, but heading in the wrong direction. She very quickly disappeared around the far corner of her house.
At this point, things got interesting.
A large Enterprise Rent-A-Truck had passed me several moments earlier (before I saw the kid), and the driver had gone down to the end of the cul-de-sac and turned around. He was now heading back up the street, diesel engine roaring.
After seeing the mother going the wrong direction, I turned back to the kid, who was now toddling towards the street, literally on a perfectly-timed collision course with this huge rented box truck, which showed no evidence of slowing down. I ran back to the kid and got in front of him to sort of block him. He was only a few feet from the street at that point.
Moments later, the rental truck roared past behind me.
Being that it was a large box truck and a rental, I'm sure the driver isn't used to driving them, and this kid was so small - no more than a year-and-a-half - I honestly don't know if he would have seen him, had the kid made it into the street. The driver certainly didn't appear to slow down at all as he passed us standing just a few feet away.
The kid was a cute little redhead, and although he looked up at me with an expression of "Who the hell are you?", he immediately reached his arms out for me to pick him up. I was trying to control my dog and keep her off of him, and I wasn't about to pick him up anyway (that whole strange men with kids thing again), so instead I picked up the dog and then took his hand and started walking back towards where I had seen his mother.
She came running towards us about that time, panting and half-crazed with fear and scooped him up into her arms. I think she was embarrassed that he'd gotten out of the house. She said something like, "I guess I'm going to have to start locking the doors!"
I said something about being surprised when I saw him walking down the driveway, she thanked me, practically in tears now, and I continued on my walk.
It was just really strange that I happened to be there right at that time, with that big truck barreling down the street, and this kid - old enough to walk, but not old enough to sense danger - literally toddling right on a collision course with it. It's disturbing to think about what might have happened if I hadn't been there at that particular time.
And of course, it will probably come as no surprise to you to discover that this was the first time I had walked down that street in months. In the winter, I don't normally walk far enough to get to that street.
In any case, considering how I just happened to be in the right place at the right time - this unfamiliar man with a UK toboggan and a little white dog on a pink leash - I figure that this mother, in future decades, will tell the story of when the strange man appeared out of nowhere, saved her kid from being flattened by a truck, and then disappeared down the street, never to be seen again.
This is how those goose-bump-inducing guardian angel stories begin, I think.