A regular routine of mine takes me along a road at about the same time each morning. Over the last week or so I’ve come to notice a cute little group of a mother and 3 children waiting on a corner for the school bus.
Of course, I don’t know for sure that they are a family – it could be an adult and some unrelated children, but it sure looks like Mom, her 2 little girls and their older brother. In any case, since they wait at a corner with a 4 way stop sign, I’ve seen them there since school started back, and they are part of my routine now.
This morning, either I was a bit earlier or they were a bit later, but they were not there as I approached the junction. The boy was just getting to the corner, his two young sisters were running to catch up, and Mom was not far behind. All this I took in as I came to a stop at the line. Nothing outstanding, just a normal part of life in the city.
What I also took in as I slowed down was that the car behind me didn’t seem to be reducing its speed. As I stopped, the car drove beside me, next to the curb, and went across the stop sign without stopping, inches from the boy.
No doubt there was a good reason that the driver was in a hurry. No doubt he would rationalize it by saying that there was no traffic around (apart from me there wasn’t) and he didn’t hurt anyone (true, no one was physically hurt), so what was the problem? Maybe he didn’t notice the girls running towards the corner, or the young boy already standing there, or maybe he believed that they would stay on the sidewalk, and no one would get hurt. Or maybe he was in such a rush that he didn’t care.
The world if full of what-if’s. What if the boy had chosen that moment to look to see if the school bus was coming, and had stepped onto the road? What if one of the girls had tripped and fallen into the path of the car? What if the driver had misjudged it, and mounted the curb?
But even apart from any physical harm that the driver could have caused (and ignoring the traffic violation) it disturbed me at a different level. Here is a happy family group, who will now have to be even more careful, even more afraid of the road. I hope I will continue to see them on that corner, but each time I do I’ll be watching for dangerous maneuvers by others. And if I don’t see them one morning, I’ll wonder, did someone in a hurry take one too many chances? Is the little family safe?
To the driver, I’d like to ask; was what you were driving to worth endangering a young family’s life? Would the 30 seconds or so it would have taken to stop been that critical to your day? How important is it?