Last week was stressful. We were coming off Em’s birthday, and I had a full week of appointments and obligations. We had a forty-five minute drive to her doctor. I knew we had to leave early because the drive would be during rush hour traffic.
We left over an hour before the scheduled appointment time. We had plenty of time to spare. After we passed the usual traffic hot spots, I knew we’d make it there on time, no problem. Just a few minutes later, traffic came to a stop. Literally, to a halt.
My first thought was, “great, someone texting and driving probably got in a fender bender.” Now I was going to be late. Fifteen minutes passed, and a tow truck drove by. Another half hour went by, and I called the doctor to let them know we would miss our appointment all together.
Another fifteen minutes later, a flat bed tow truck appeared. Maybe this accident was more serious than I thought, given that we were still stopped.
While we were completely stopped, I tweeted this…
Stuck on 280S. The corner van just drove pass. :(
— Cam Bowman (@cambowman) August 22, 2012
Before the coroner van drove past, it never crossed my mind that someone may have lost their life. Traffic started moving a few minutes later. I passed judgement without knowing any of the details. I just knew that I was going to be late. My day was going to be a mess. But it looked like someone’s day was a lot worse than mine.
Later that day, I looked up the news to find out what happened. Some parent lost their 21-year-old son in that accident. It was not his fault. His tire had blown out on the freeway causing him to lose control of his car. He hit the only tree on the side of the freeway. No other cars were involved. No alcohol was involved. Just horrible, horrible luck.
I had chills thinking about this the rest of the day. What an horrible thing to happen to an innocent young man just starting is adult life. And why did he have to hit that tree? The only stupid tree in the middle of the freeway within miles. Then it struck me. Hitting that single tree may have ended his life. But it prevented his car from veering into oncoming traffic on the opposite side of the freeway, which would have caused much more trauma.
I passed judgment on a situation I knew nothing about. I know we all do it. For some reason, this time, it really bothered me. Next time, I’ll try not to judge so quickly.
*I tweeted that while we were completely stopped on the freeway for 45 minutes. Traffic wasn’t moving in any way, and I did not stay on my phone. Auto-correct also changed “coroner” to “corner”. Thanks, auto-correct.