In the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

What happened was this: A person leaving the bar from point A (the bar’s parking lot) wanted to get to point B (the street directly across from the bar’s parking lot) by crossing Line C (Westheimer, a busy road).  They gunned their engine and thought the way was clear, then drove across the road directly into a passing scooter.  The man on the scooter was flung into the air.  An ambulance came, severing the two points and the line crossed to get there, and took the injured man away.  The people in the truck stopped a hundred feet up the road and waited.  Soon enough, the police came.

The man on the scooter is a regular at the bar.  The two driving the truck were patrons of the bar, new to Robin and me, who were nice enough.  They had a few drinks, but weren’t drunk.  The parking lot, especially on busy nights, is full and the street beside the parking lot is also full, cars lining the curb like a parade.  It’s a delicate and trying process to edge a car out of the parking lot without being hit by oncoming traffic.  SUVs keep the view to themselves.

I don’t know the patron who was hit.  If I saw him, I’d know him, or so people tell me.  I don’t know the people who hit him.  If I saw them, I’d probably not remember him, so many people come through our gates on Friday night.  I don’t know the cops who flooded the street after the accident, identical in their uniforms, men and women, various races, all collapsed under the blue.  I don’t know the man who drove through the police barricade, confident in his own importance, but any night a dozen of him are in the bar, talking themselves up.  I don’t know the homeless man who walked up and down the street under the flashing police lights, head ducked, but I’ve seen him on the streets for years walking walking sturdily through his delusions.

This is one of those purer tragedies, where in an instant life goes wrong but not because of what you did.  Well, yes, it’s because of what you did, but not necessarily because you did anything wrong.  Well, yes, it might be because of what you did wrong, if impatience is wrong.  But take out that impatience.  A truck crossing the street, a scooter coming fast at a right angle, human error, and human error isn’t usually a crime though the cost can be enormous.  Irreversible.  Irretrievable.

The man in a different truck who crossed the police barricade, who was stopped by the police, who was asked if he’d had anything to drink, who said he was in a hurry, who the police told to get out of his vehicle, who was belligerent, who admitted to having two beers, who had the bad luck to encounter a bunch of police who were already on edge from the accident, who had the bad idea to be belligerent to the police, who decided to ignore what they were asking him to do (put your hands on the side of the vehicle), who was aggressively rude, who was put in handcuffs, who was given a field sobriety test, who argued with the cop who was giving the test, who made walking-in-a-straight-line-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other seem difficult, who failed, who had his car towed, who was towed himself to jail, for him I feel pity.  But I feel no sympathy.

His night was all of his own making.

The man in the ambulance who I hope is still alive and recovering.  The man taken to jail for what could be vehicular manslaughter.  For them I feel sympathy and I feel love and I feel sorrow.

All of our days are filled with possible accidents that we don’t notice because we don’t see them.  We can’t.  There’s too much tragedy hovering just over our heads.

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