Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Reaction to Tragedy

Today I walked a half hour to an appointment. As I neared my destination, I saw that one road was closed, blocked with cones and a truck and guarded by a man in a vest whose job it was to direct traffic away.

I imagine it might have been hard for some of the drivers to understand where they needed to go and some of them might have complained. I heard the white-bearded man in the reflective vest scream at one driver. “Take a left, then another left, and another left and maybe you won’t die!” he yelled, so loud I could hear him a half block away.

When I walked through the closed area, I saw a bicycle with a crumpled front tire lying on its side in the middle of the road, as well as several dropped plastic bags that had broken at the bottom from the pressure of a fall. An empty red Jeep was on the side of the road.

It looked like all the people involved in the accident had already been removed. But the block was crawling with police and men taking photographs and using what looked like land survey equipment to measure the scene. Perhaps someone had died and thus upset the guard.

It was amazing to me to see the entire street blocked off for over an hour and what looked like a small army mapping out all the details, which will probably later be used in court. I imagined what would happen had there been a similar accident in Bolivia. I’d guess the victims would be lucky if medical care arrived quickly to take them to the hospital. Maybe there would be an exchange of contact information, maybe the driver of the car would cover the medical expenses. But it’s hard to imagine that cars would stop for long, that there would be so many public servants available to spend time documenting the situation, or that the victims would receive any compensation for pain and suffering.

No comments: