Today, I got an answer to something that I’ve always wondered. What would I do if an accident happened right in front of me? Well, it was actually right behind me. I drive that road every day after work and I know how it can get.
The road is a two-lane off-ramp connecting two interstates. At that time of day, the right-most lane gets backed up. There have been times that I couldn’t merge in and I couldn’t very well stop and hold up traffic in the left lane, so I was forced to take an alternate route home. Because the right lane backs up and the left doesn’t, I think that people driving in the right lane (and this has happened to me) misread the speed of their lane, because they are keeping pace with people in the faster left lane. Then all of a sudden, your lane grinds to a halt.
If you’re lucky, you’ll see it happen a couple of cars ahead, if you’re not lucky, the car in front of you will suddenly slow down. If you’re really unlucky, the car in front of you will swerve onto the shoulder and the car in front of them will be stopped. All of that happened today.
I actually was not lucky, I was surprised by the car in front of me. The cars behind me were less lucky. I escaped unscathed. But not being involved in the accident, what was I to do? This is the question I had been wondering about.
See, I hate the world. I really hate people. I blog about it; it’s not a secret. But I hate that the world is that way. And so what did I do in this moment of truth? I pulled over and jogged back to see if there was anything I could do to help.
Everyone was as fine as you could hope for. One guy who had his airbags go off seemed a little stunned and I had to roll his windows down to get some fresh air in there (Airbags really stink. That’s the second time I’ve smelled it.) Another Samaritan was checking on drivers too and said he would call 911, but he disappeared quickly after.
I hung around until the police and paramedics arrived and gave everyone my contact info in case their insurance company wanted it, but I’m not sure I’ll be of much help. The people behind would have been better witnesses, but everyone’s got somewhere to go…
So, why didn’t I take off like everyone else? It’s not my problem – I was lucky. I suspect that I don’t care about “people” because I can’t. I can’t care about them because I can’t do anything about it. People trapped in a cave in Argentina? What the fuck can I do about that? People right behind me getting in an accident? I can try to help there. It’s a proximity thing. I might have said before that help begins locally and this just reinforces it.