A funny thing happened on the way home last night…

Well – not funny – an averted tragedy followed by a very embarrasing experience.

I was driving at about 5pm (just on the start of peak hour) along Ferntree Gully Road, when saw up ahead on the left hand side of the road a little-tacker who could not have been more than two years old, walking along playing with a stick. That’s odd, I thought, there’s no-one with him. To my horror, I saw that he was heading directly for the road, not at all aware of the danger he was heading into.

I slowed right down and sounded the horn – he looked up but kept coming. There was a stream of traffic – but most of it was now slowing down as I was. My main concern now was to get to the boy before he stepped out into the traffic. The cars in front of me went past him without stopping, but I came to a halt just as he was stepping onto the road. I jumped from my car, and stepped out into the inside lane of traffic (it was a dual lane road) to stop the traffic coming behind me. By this time the little lad was on the road in front of my car. I ran around, scooped him up, and carried him back to safety. Several other drivers stopped and jumped out, and we started looking for the boy’s parents. A neighbour came rushing up – he had seen the boy wandering down his street – and helped us locate the child’s home. Needless to say, his mother was greatly relieved – she had noticed him missing only moments earlier.

So! Tragedy averted. Now the embarrassment began.

My car was still parked in the middle of the road on Ferntree Gully in peak hour traffic. When I went to get back in to move it, I found that I had (automatically, and quite by instinct) LOCKED it when I jumped out! (God knows how I did that – I didn’t stop to do it, that’s for sure). My keys were locked inside, still in the ignition. You can guess how silly I felt. One of the other drivers who had stopped loaned me their mobile phone so I could call Cathy to bring the spare key, but then was the long wait while all the traffic banked up behind me.

The neighbour stayed with me for moral support, but after the motorists who had witnessed the incident had passed, I was then left to endure the irrate reactions of drivers who were caught in the resulting traffic jam. Some motorists did stop to ask if they could help. But most swore or sounded their horns at me as they went past. It was very hard to feel good about what I had just done after enduring all that.

Which just leads me to think once again how important context and information is to interpreting anything that we encounter around us in our lives. We like to think that we are impartial and rational judges, that our judgement and opinion is actually worth something. But how often are we simply woefully short of viatl information that would make sense of what it is that we are trying to interpret? This is, it seems to me, the only explanation of why we (you and me and all the rest of the human race) rational human beings so often violently disagree on this matter or the other: we each come at reality from different angles resulting from different experiences and the acquisition of different sets of information.

This is not to say there is not a true reality “out there”. The situation I described really happened and is the only real explanation of why a car came to be parked in the middle of the road during peak hour traffic. . But the motorists who got angry at the dill who parked his car in the middle of the road were not privy to these vital interpretive facts. As the wise Terry Pratchett once wrote, “The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.”

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “A funny thing happened on the way home last night…

  1. Peregrinus

    As my late and very wise great-aunt used to say, “do a good turn, and you’ll pay for it”.

  2. Well, truth is out there, but we interpret things according to our conceptions and theories, and expectations.

  3. Thanks David, I was getting Anxious as you were relating the story. I remembered when I “temporarily” lost my three yr old son at a shopping centre and the horror I experienced. Your story triggered the memory. Bless you for stopping, the rest doesnt matter.
    Anne

  4. No good deed goes unpunished.

  5. Every day the Lord sends us both consolations and tribulations; but fear not, He is potent in redonating a greater consolation. (Cf. Imitation of Christ.)

    Or, as St Louis de Montfort used to say when everything was going well for a change, What a cross to be without a cross!

  6. You very probably saved that little kid, so I’m sure I speak for all when I say, well done!

  7. Tony

    I reckon the saving of the child from potential disaster outweighs the bad aspects of the story immeasurably. I hope you realised that then or soon after you got clear of the highway.

    We used to live on a busy road and one day we accidently left the front door open. Almost to the second we realised that our daughter was missing and heard the squeal of brakes outside. It was a nanosecond of terror that I’ll never forget. Fortunately the car stopped.

    As for information and context, most of those drivers weren’t interested in context. They just assumed. It’s a lesson to be sure.

    Anyhow, even though I don’t know you or the kid, I’m just thankful you didn’t drive past.