Monday, August 9, 2010
I realize that a photograph like this one, of a Jaguar that's just been run into a wall, may not seem like the thing to post as a motivator for your week ahead. I mean, isn't this the kind of thing you want to avoid, regardless of what you drive?
Yes, that's probably true. But it's also true that you can learn a few things about yourself from an accident like this--even when you're just a witness.
The background: The woman who was driving this car was hit by a man speeding past a light in his truck. He clipped her vehicle on the right while they were both crossing the intersection. All of a sudden...squealing tires, cracking glass, her car spinning around. Then, as if in slow motion, I watched as it came headed right toward me.
I was the first car at the light, stopped on red, the inside lane. Cars all around me. I wasn't going anywhere. Luckily--for me--she passed just in front of me before smashing into the wall.
When the cars behind me started honking, and I saw drivers drive away when the light turned green again, I was still left there, stunned. It took me a minute or two to realize what I'd just seen and be able to pull over into the closest parking lot so I could serve my duty as a witness--and get off the road so traffic could flow.
Young kids who'd also witnessed the accident were already at the car, checking on the driver. A man who'd been passed by the truck driver was there as well. The Jaguar driver's air bag had exploded, and smoke from the air bag was billowing out of her mouth. She was lying back, wincing in some kind of pain. Someone had already called 911.
The wall happens to belong to an insurance agency, and the owner (who would later tell me he's out here taking pictures of these kinds of accidents and damage to his wall at least twice a year) came outside and started taking pictures.
It took about 25 minutes before emergency vehicles arrived to help. To me, that seemed like an eternity. To the woman in the car, in pain, it must have seemed far worse.
You think about a lot of things when you're standing around, waiting for the police to arrive at the scene of an accident you just witnessed:
_Is the driver going to be okay?
_Has her family been notified?
_Who is she?
_I hope the EMT's grab her purse when they take her away on that stretcher.
_She's wincing, but there's no blood. I hope she doesn't have internal injuries.
_Is her car going to be safe?
_Oh, that's nice that you locked her car door, young man.
_I better call Christine who is waiting for me at the restaurant where I'm supposed to be right now.
_I'm glad I'm not in a hurry when I'm driving.
_I wish other people would slow down.
_Why are the police taking so long?!
Yes, a lot of nonsensical and not-so-nonsensical stuff goes on in your mind when you witness an accident.
But what is the take away? Where is the motivation? Okay, some of it I've alluded to already, but here are three things I'm reminded of when I think of that accident:
1) SLOW DOWN
So what if you're going to be late to that meeting this week. Call ahead. Let your people know you're running behind. If the meeting's that important, they'll wait for you. Getting into accident, or worse--causing one--is not worth the cost.
2) DO YOUR DUTY
Thankfully, the driver who caused the accident stopped and did not flee, though he very well could have. And while I questioned what role I had in staying around and serving as a witness to an accident that I'm not sure I saw well enough to report all of the details clearly and correctly, I thought I better do my best and offer whatever information I could. No matter that I was going to be late for my meeting. I did call those who were waiting for me and let them know, and they offered to cancel the meeting. But I was sure I'd be there soon enough. When the policeman arrived, all he did was take our names and other pertinent information. He collected about 10 names, and I've yet to receive a call. But at least I know I did the right thing.
3) BE THANKFUL
I'm grateful that I only served as a witness to this accident. It could have been worse. I could be in the hospital right now, or dealing with my insurance company and all the paperwork involved in getting a car repaired.
These are motivating factors that remind me that life can change in an instant. So as you move forward in the week ahead, think about what it means to be your Best self. Are you going to slow things down, drive more carefully, remember to think responsibly toward others, and be thankful for the goodness you already have in your life? That is my plan. That is my motivation for this week.
What about you?