Saturday, January 3, 2009


On a very few occasions, especially over the last few years, it has seemed as if I could actually predict the outcome of a situation while it was in progress. The most compelling of these was the incident invovlving the two racing drivers in Kitchener, on November 30 2005.

To keep a long story short, I was in the position of being involved in the situation well before the collision that resulted in the death of an innocent driver. I was driving up Victoria Street one afternoon, when a vehicle being driven in a very agressive manner came up behind me, following far too close. I knew he was trouble. It was a two lane road in each direction, and he was behind me in the left, as it seemed to be moving faster initially. I knew the road very well, and wanted to keep this idiot behind me until the road widened past the expressway, so as I watched the traffic flow ahead, I noticed that the driver in our lane ahead was losing a bit of speed, so I thought I would make the change to the right lane, now moving a bit faster. Too late though, because just as I decided to make the change and signal right, the guy behind me in the SUV had jumped in and nosed his way forward. Sixty seconds later an innocent man, Mike Doherty, was fatally injured.

What gets me is that I had identified a potential issue, and decided to do something to prevent it from becoming worse, but unfortunately I acted too late. Had I acted on my instinct and experience one second earlier, Mike Doherty would be alive. One time I mentioned this to Katherine who replied that I couldn't have done anything about it. Well in this particular case I could have, but decided to late, and someone died as a result. That is something I get to live with, that directly or indirectly, I failed to prevent someone from dying. Perhaps someday you will be in a situation like that, or know someone who is. Guilt will be a strong emotional response. Don't try to invalidate it by suggesting you or they "couldn't do a thing about it". I think a much better response to the person experiencing the guilt is the simple, unadorned truth: You could have done something about it, but for whatever reason you did not, or could not, or what you did was too late; it is these mistakes that make us human, and that we learn from: perhaps in a future situation what you do will lead to a better outcome.

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