I was driving along Route 4 this morning, cruising in the center lane, bright and early, daring fate by going 56 miles per hour in a 50 zone. Two cars ahead, I noticed a sudden brake light and, in proper defensive driving mode, I started my own braking procedure (deploying the parachute wasn't necessary). Apparently some folk in the left lane weren't as in tune with their surroundings and the next thing I know, tires screech and smoke and one SUV ended up facing 90 degrees in the wrong direction. Just a side note – while I was horrible in math, I seem to have gained an appreciation for angles, especially as they relate to cars and accidents.
So anyway, the tires screeched but I think I mentioned that. The demolition derby came to life as a car stopped short (well, certainly not long), the car behind it fishtailed after hitting it and then was hit by the car behind it, broadside. The front car (whose driver was, by this time, getting his story straight) pulled over ahead, his left tail light broken. The other two rumbled to a halt and I, without thinking, pulled off to the side in between. I jumped out of my car (missing the middle of the Talking Heads' "Life During Wartime") and ran to each car and yelled "Are you ok?" All three were on the phone and all three indicated that they were fine. Relieved, I went back to my car, pulled in to traffic and continued on to work.
Then it hit me, and stop me if you've heard this. "What if any of them had actually needed some help?"
Now if you're a long time reader you know I have confronted something tangential to this a while ago, but this was no longer the realm of the theory – I was really on the side of the road, asking strangers about their feelings. What would have happened if one of them had said "I can't feel my legs" or "I'm feeling the urge to push."
Remember, I'm a not so glorified high school English teacher and administrator.
Would I have stood there and answered "No! I meant do you have anything you need proofread?" or "Sorry, I was just wondering if you were comfortable with your son's placement in his science section?" What was I thinking pulling over and trying to be all nice and what not. I made sure to get out of there because I wouldn't want some police officer asking me to be a witness and then looking at me with his suspiciously sun-glassed eyes and saying "What's the real difference between carom and careen?"