Friday, October 8, 2010

Can you hear screaming?

I was only a couple of kilometres from home, sitting at a red light, when an ambulance came screaming up behind the traffic. Like a slowly-unfolding fan, the cars all slid to the side of the road and the ambulance roared through. I might have forgotten about it by the time I reached the servo if I hadn't seen the swirling lights of at least six -- possibly more -- emergency vehicles clustered around the nearby shopping mall carpark. The sun was on its way down and the flashing red and blue was like an eerie disco light show. I had terrifying thoughts of crazed gunmen.

As I filled up the car, the older lady on the bowser at my right asked me, Can you hear screaming? I paused. There was definitely some screaming -- but it didn't seem to be coming from the mall. Maybe it's from the playground? I offered -- hopefully. The woman turned and stared.

To my left, a guy in business clothes wrestled with the petrol pump, the pink personalised licence plate on his car a seemingly out-of-place detail. Do you know what's going on? he asked. I shrugged. Scary.

Inside the service station, as I paid for the fuel, a guy in butcher's garb leaned forward, nudging himself into the conversation. Do you know what happened? I asked. He nodded and pulled a face. Apparently some guy had a heart attack and drove his car into Suncorp.

It sounded too unreal to be true.

I went to get back into my car. The businessman was still wrestling with the fuel pump. The old lady hovered near. I heard what happened, I said. Apparently an old man had a heart attack and drove into the bank. The guy's eyes widened. Thanks for letting me know, he said soberly.

Then the three of us got into our cars and drove off to our respective lives, back to being strangers with no connection other than that we were in the same place at the same time, wondering. And I thought about how tragedy -- even a seemingly tiny, personal tragedy -- bonds random people in random ways.

* * * * *


Caitlin -- and much love back to you. Your party is tomorrow! Hurrah!

Rebecca Simon -- thank you, Derek. ;)

Asea -- people-watching is the best!

Rachael -- don't you just love little people?

Nan -- how lovely to receive your comments!

Meaghan -- I wish you had been there with me. Granted, though, I probably wouldn't have noticed because I'd have been too busy talking to you. :)


  1. :-( That's sad. I find it quite upsetting to be on the fringes of a tragedy like that, and then I feel like I'm being dramatic expressing that because...hello, it didn't happen to ME or anyone I know. But you've expressed it well. Tragedy does bind random people in random ways. Reminds us of our mutual humanity, I guess.

  2. the last paragraph gave me MAJOR goosebumps. true story.

  3. How sad =/ and how traumatic for all those around when it happened. The brevity of human life.... this is such a good reminder that we never know when God might call someone Home.


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