Saturday, 1 August 2015

Once in a blue moon...

July 31st was a blue moon. We thought it entirely apt, as we have shaken up our lives to a degree that is unusual to the average person…in our lives. And, once in a blue moon, we do that. Well today, after too many years to want to put in writing, our accident-free record was undone by a fender bender in a parking lot. So, that is also a once in a blue moon for us.

While DH pondered the blue moon implications, in the midst of the turmoil of the moment, I could not help but also put on my writer’s cap. I truly felt as though I were above on a crane, filming the moment, aware of all of the actors involved. It was disconcerting and interesting. Luckily, DH understands, and I will not be subjected to a battery of tests by the local psychologist. Not yet. Truth? Between you, me and the cyber wall? He really should be asking me to stretch out on a couch and spew forth. But, he’s a patient man. A good man. A once in a blue moon kinda man. J

Camera #1 pans the couple. They have just received license plates and insurance for their new province. Pictures are taken of the dear husband putting the plates on the car. It is a moment. It is something to celebrate. They drive across the plaza and park and go in to buy a little bubbly with which to toast this landmark moment in their transition. A man runs in asking who owns a vehicle with such and such a license plate. Having only owned the plates for maybe, fifteen minutes, it takes a minute to register that they are the grand winners in his bingo callout. The car has been hit.

Camera #2 pans to the bystanders. They insist that the police need to be called. One man thought his vehicle was going to be hit. He is visiting his children and grandchildren and had been sitting in the van with them. He is angry that this woman has hit the couple's car and insistent that they need to ensure she does not leave the parking lot. He is rattled. It could have been him and his precious grandbaby. Another man hands over his card, apologizes that he has to run but says he saw it all and would be happy to speak to the police. A third man stays nearby for support while DH goes in to phone the police.

(God bless the bystanders willing to speak out. Seriously, this is a new experience for us and we had no idea what to do. We had a line up of witnesses who left their names and numbers and hung on as long as they could waiting for the police to arrive--the police we called at these people’s insistence. For, we are new to the province and, have I mentioned, too many years to count as accident free? They were concerned for us, but they were also concerned because the driver had driven over a very high meridian and hit us…twice.)

Camera #3 pans to the driver of the car, a woman. She is disengaged from the events, standing in the hot sun by her car, sweating, calmly waiting for the police to come. No fuss and few words, despite attempts to draw her into conversation. The only thing she said was that she was having a really bad day. When the RCMP arrive she raises her hands and says, "I'm the culprit." She willingly takes the breathalyser test and fails. She is put in the back of the cruiser, her car impounded.

My story is pretty linear (Camera #1). License plates, insurance, sense of celebration, a few minutes later, deflation. A man and a woman who could not decide whether to laugh or cry at the impossibility of the timing. (We did choose laughter in the end. Possibly a tad hysterical, but laughter nonetheless.)

The bystanders are the heroes of the tale (Camera #2). They saw not only injustice (apparently, the driver was going to leave until someone jumped out to tell her they had seen it), but the potential for harm that this woman could do in their community. They displayed incredible vigilance and support on the Friday of a long weekend, when you know everyone had somewhere to be. I do believe I am officially in love with my new province.

Camera #3. That’s the camera filming the heartbreaking part of the story. The woman stood, dishevelled, almost disoriented. Remnants of her last meal sat nestled on her chin, the preceding appetizer drizzled down the front of her t-shirt. I would estimate her age to be mid-sixties. Old enough to know better and old enough to know that sometimes life sucks and you wallow in it until you drown. She was drowning.

As a writer, I dissect point of view on a regular basis. I clearly understand my POV. Happily putting on the plates, newly insured, we truck across to the other side of the plaza and are hit by a drunk driver while selecting our champagne. I do believe this situation sets itself up for the exploration of the concept of irony, but I will leave that for another post. J
I love the just and righteous POV of the bystanders. Amazing. I applaud them for living up to what we wish for in this world. If more people spoke up when they saw a wrong, more importantly, when they saw a danger to their community, the world would be a better place.

It is her POV that I cannot leave be, that haunts me. What is her story? What leads someone to drunk driving, arrest, and impoundment at 2 PM on a Friday afternoon? What leads them to stand there willingly in a hot parking lot without a word of defense or defiance, placidly waiting for the police to arrive? Regardless of the answer, it is a sad story. It is a weighted POV.

My car is just a car. A lump of metal with a motor, it can be repaired. But what of her? Will this be a catalyst to change? To help? I know not, for that is not information that I will ever be privy too. I feel guilt about making her already bad day, worse. But, then I think of the alternative. She would have been out on the roads. She jumped a high meridian and hit our car twice. What damage might she have done if allowed to go back on the road? What other POV’s might I see? The child on the bicycle? The old man crossing the road? The family heading out for their once a year vacation?

I regret camera #3, I really do. It saddens me. But it is not tragic. What might have happened had this poor woman continued on the road, Camera #4, that would be tragedy. And, quite frankly, I prefer my tragedies to lie between the pages of a book.



  1. Oh, Rose! What a story! I'm with you, it's sad not to know the end of Camera #3's story, but to avoid Camera #4 is a blessing. Truly it is.

    1. Sad, but true. Still, don't you wish you knew more of her story or the ending of this particular chapter?

  2. Rose! So glad you two (and others) were not hurt! Enough excitement already. You won't know what to do when things slow down! And by the way... CONGRATS! You are British Columbians!

    1. Sadie, my dear! Still in the middle of the crazies (contents arrive Tuesday) but got your email and will write soon. Promise. Thanks for popping by the blog. And, well, I guess we're official. I mean, we're making a claim on BC insurance. That must make us real, right? ;0)

  3. You don't do things in half measures, that's for certain. Sorry about the lump of metal/plastic, happy about the honesty and willingness, and bless your soul for camera number 3.

  4. Jayne, thanks for dropping by. Sadly, in our lives, we have seen too many camera number threes. And, worse, we have both known the folks captured by camera number four. May we see less of both in the future.