Granted, I don’t know if it was texting at the wheel that caused the massive traffic accident on I-71 southbound today, but it’s still good advice.
So…I’m home. I got home about an hour and a half ago, after a drive that was overlong by about 45 minutes due to a tragedy. I was 30 miles from my apartment when traffic came to a sudden halt on this very busy highway.
My initial reaction, of course, was frustration. Why NOW? I was half an hour from home, at the most, and I’d already been on the road for about 10 hours.
After sitting there for a while, a medical helicopter landed no further than 1/4, 1/3 mile away from my car. That was, of course, indicative that real sh*t was going down. This was not a random bottleneck or construction. But then came a second helicopter. REALLY not good.
With nothing else to do, people started milling around, conversing, taking pictures, or–in the case of a car of college age-looking guys behind me–playing basketball. Tired and less than community-minded, I stayed behind the wheel and read C.S. Lewis (I’ve finished Perelandra and have moved on to That Hideous Strength) until the helicopters took off and we could start moving again.
There were so many patrol cars and other emergency vehicles around–the accident had happened near an exit, so the ramp had been blocked off–that it looked like an enormous accident. But I just checked the news, and it says it only involved one car. That was a LOT of damage for one car (which had been flipped on its side), with all the debris everywhere, and of course the physical damage to those involved. I knew before I looked up the story that someone had been killed, because when we finally got moving and passed the site, I saw the body on the pavement, covered with a cloth. If I have nightmares tonight, I won’t be at all surprised.
It was enough to make me feel terrible for being annoyed at the delay getting home, because someone else will not be getting home tonight, or ever again.
I’m not ashamed to say that I cried after I passed the accident and everything sank in. I wept for the sake of everyone involved in the accident. I also wept because it had happened so close to me. I had stopped at a gas station for a restroom break, and when I got back into my car, I paused to choose just the right song from my iPod. If I had not taken those extra few seconds to pick music…maybe I could have been in that accident. It could have been my body lying under that sheet on the pavement.
At a time when I’ve been questioning my purpose in life and freaking out about getting another year older, it was a horrifying shock of perspective. Maybe I don’t quite know what I’m doing here in the world, but I’m here for some reason, and I don’t want to waste my time.
And so, my most recent travels ended on a morbid note, but one of gratitude, as well. Please be careful out there, everyone. No matter how alone you feel, I promise you that someone out there is counting on you getting home safely.