Defensive Driving


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I had to drive a way down the highway yesterday in the rain. I actually enjoy driving, and I’ve always been a fan of a big growly engine and lots of horsies under the hood, because I enjoy speed and the sense of freedom that zooming down a highway with just you, some cool music, and the control of a fast car brings. But stupid I’m not – mostly. People seem to assume that no matter what the conditions, they are absolutely obliged to drive at the top speed limit – at the very least. Bloody fools.

I stuck to mainly 100 kph when the visibility was bad, and made sure that I kept well away from the crazies as best I could, but I saw three cars barely manage to control skids as they flew past a petrol tanker up a blind hill, then succeed in avoiding an oncoming bus by what had to be inches, and then spend a minute slewing all over the road in some grizzly fast car ballet. Then – coming up to the town where I live I came across the aftermath of an accident. Humungous truck all bent and twisted on one side of the road, all his cargo all over the place, and a whole lot of cars in a bunch on the other side. Police cars, fire trucks, and people trying to clear the stuff off the road.

Then this morning I heard that a truck had been encroaching on the wrong side of the road, and had a head on with a minibus full of Zimbabweans, killing ten of them, including both drivers. What a totally unnecessary waste of life. People really need to get things into perspective. The possibility of killing anyone at all through wilful negligence should never be a possibility at all. Life is precious to every single one of us, and we shouldn’t have to risk it because some tool thinks that he has to do everything quicker and louder than everyone else.

And then there’s the other thing. The fact that the people of Zimbabwe have been turned into a nation of vagrants and forced world travellers by the selfish behaviour of the greedy few in control of their lives. I meet them here every time I go to town – people who have no way of providing for their families in their own country, and they come down here to work so that they can send money home. They don’t do it because they want to swan around the continent – in fact they have a lot of difficulties here because they are seen to be stealing work from local people. They do it because they choose to try their best instead of sitting under a tree and waiting to die of starvation, while their leaders get fatter and wealthier on what should rightly be theirs.

All of my Zimbabwean friends have said that there is nothing more terrifying than travelling in minibus taxis, but they don’t have any other choice because that’s the only way they can afford to travel. Pity that those bloody thieving politians don’t get to feel the fear of knowing that the pilot of the speeding vehicle you’re in decides whether you live or die with the choices that he makes. Although, having been directly responsible for the deaths of so many of their people for so many years now, even that wouldn’t make a difference. Pardon the rant. But really. No appointment is so important, and no destination will disappear because you get there a little late.

It got me thinking at any rate. There but for the grace of God, and that sort of thing. We go through our lives always busy. Busy doing, and planning, and fretting, and doing some more. Worrying about things that maybe aren’t so important in the grand old scheme of things. We get ourselves all in knots over some silly thing that we said, and worry about what people will think about us. We care so much about doing the right things, and the impressions we are making. Whether that be being seen as a ninny for driving “too slow”, or in the scribbling and blogging world, putting something out there that nobody will like. And while we’re agonising over that one truly rotten review, or worrying that we’ll be ridiculed for some scribble lurking around somewhere, those things could literally become the last thought we ever have. Right place at the wrong time is all it takes. So. I think that I’ll just have the rest of the day off, play with Bella and the horde, watch me some B-Grade movie – maybe Sharknado again – missed the end last time, and ponder what I’m up to in this life, the universe, and everything.

Rest In Peace Zimbabwean friends. I’m truly sorry that you had to leave this way.