Saturday, 29 January 2011

Schemas and their destruction

I was thinking about my post that I was (am) going to write, and thought you'll be fed up with me writing depressing posts and talking about the accident.. but it's because the last couple of weeks have brought it all back to me, right to the front of my mind.   Over the 5-6 months after the accident I was concentrating more on my health and getting better, and not really talking about it. But now all the legal stuff has started and I'm driving, my leg is looking after itself and it's my thoughts that are distracting me.

Somebody asked me the other day whether I'd had any counselling. I should have answered "No, I write a blog", because this feels like therapy to me.

How many times do you hear people say "It's restored my faith in humanity" when somebody does something good or thoughtful?  It makes it sound like the person usually goes around thinking the worst of everybody. All Humanity was bad but now someone did something nice so all Humanity is good again.   Although I have my share of cynicism (that was an example right there), in general I think I have quite a lot of faith in humanity, and I'm sure most of us do.

Well, I realised today while driving across the Forest with Django (40mph limit, hurrah!) on a long straight road watching people driving towards me:  I have lost my trust in people on the road.  I know that is a generalisation in the same way, but statistics and logic play little part in emotions.  It's not as specific as being scared of white trucks or tree-lined roads.  After 27 years of driving I have finally discovered that yes, it can happen to me; and yes it may be totally unpredictable. 

Most of the time, we expect people to behave on the road in a predictable way, we are not constantly on Code Red looking for danger.   Obviously people don't always behave predictably - otherwise there would be no traffic accidents - but as far as basic driving skills are concerned we expect them to drive in their lane, stop at junctions, etc..   The fact that Ms.E (the other driver) did something so apparently random has sent my expectations crashing.   I was watching those cars driving towards me today, and if they moved two inches towards the white line, I was slowing down and creeping nearer to the edge of the road.

Linking here to a post by Alexia about some youngsters recently killed in a car crash, we are in charge of these machines that have the power to kill, yet we treat it so casually.  It's our right to be on the road, in a hurry to get where we're going, driving too close, having fun on the bends, going to the pub and 'one drink will be fine', thinking about problems at work and not bothering to really pay attention.

Watch people driving while you are out (preferably while you are a passenger!). How many are actually looking at the road and other vehicles? how many are fiddling with something, or looking out of the window at the view, or at their passenger while they talk; on the phone, or checking a map or looking as though they are on another planet, or doing their make-up.  [A woman followed me once, spending most of the time looking in her rearview mirror doing her entire make-up while driving. I pulled over and let her past because I was spending too much time looking at her in my rearview mirror, wondering when she was going to drive into the back of me.]

I'm not saying I've never done any of those things, of course I have.  We all get complacent, especially after a good number of years of uneventful travelling, and our minds wander.  And I've always enjoyed driving, the skill of it, the fluidity of getting the line on the bends just right. I miss that enjoyment of driving, I hope it comes back.
On Sunday, PC Phil is coming to see me to go through the inquest report.  I am hoping that I will find out a reason for Ms E's drift across the road, that there was some evidence that sets it apart from Complete Randomness.


  1. Juniper: I think you know from blogging with me that my family is my life. About seven years ago, my oldest daughter was driving her two children on a quiet road near her home, when a 17 year old girl, driving two weeks, hit them head on. The air bags activated and their lives were spared. One of the kids was hurt, but my daughter was hurt pretty badly. She had to give up a terrific job, had two surgeries, and underwent two years of physical therapy.

    The young girl who struck them giggled at the scene. She told the police, "It's not like they're dead or nothin'." She told the authorities she let go of the wheel and covered her face because she saw a spider on her rear view mirror.

    The day after the accident, I began to build an online business for my daughter. I figured with her injuries she could not hold on to her position. My wife and I made arrangements to take care of our grandchildren since my son-in-law had to keep working to hold on to their house. I almost lost my family in one fell swoop, and I think that is more than any human being should be forced to bear.

    However, I have not experienced a single day of unhappiness since the accident. My kids are alive and well and I am thankful. They have recovered and are happy. I love them.

    My daughter went through all the stages I have witnessed in your writing since following your blog. I hope I have never expressed a negative thought. When I have expressed how much I admire your handling of the journey through this nightmare, I was serious. I do not see you as a victim of someone's randomness. I see you as an inspiration to others.

  2. No an alien sensation has not taken over my body! But every emotion you blog about is like a trip of whimsy, pain or sweetness, but it's you, and that is why I chose to follow you....bring it on whatever it is...this is not Facebook we are all real people here (mostly, no really we are!) with real genuine feelings and at some mystic junction we are all grouped together the world of bloggers which will forever lead us into astonishing for the preordained randomness, those things we share here...HELP all of us! ;)

  3. I crashed my car once also, it was on an icy road I was driving slowly to the conditions coming down the hill to where I work and I saw an approching car coming up the hill so I went to stop as it had right of way but my car didn't stop I tried a few times applying the break with no effect the weight of the car was what was taking the car down the hill, I had to stear into a parked car or run the risk of sliding into the school children at the bottom of the hill where I worked. I had enough time to appreciate the humour as I approched the AA van. What shook me the most was the fact there was nothing I could do. I never drove down that hill when the weather was bad again I would go through the village.

  4. JJ made me cry.

    What could I possibly say that wasn't already said eloquently by him?

    (((((((((((( Juniper ))))))))))))

  5. Even in the short time I've been following your posts, I can see what great progress you've made - but I can well understand that going through all the inquest/inquiry stuff will be bringing things back.
    Thanks heaps for the comment you left on my post - it helped a great deal. I wasn't up to writing in detail about the crash (I refuse to call it an "accident"). Too angry.

    I figure there is nothing but randomness.

  6. Alexia - I alternate between the two depending on how mellow I'm feeling. Accident makes it sound like "oops!" whereas crash is factual and suggests nothing about fault or reason. The police here have changed their road signs (asking for witnesses) from saying 'Accident' to 'Crash'. The power of vocabulary.


  7. I think your driving will go back to pretty much its former naturalness. It will never be exactly the same but I remember when I learnt to drive that I could not believe that it didn't require concentration on every single moment to get it right. Then one day you panic because you cannot remember a little bit of the journey. Your brain will take over and it will happen.


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