Saturday, August 25, 2007

An Uninvited Role

Producer John Singleton was just driving along, probably listening to some tunes and thumping on his steering wheel, when bam! Life ended. Right there. On his car! Not his life, but the life of a stranger.

A jaywalker stepped in front of John Singleton's car yesterday and there was nothing he could do. She died. Singleton did everything he was supposed to do. He called an ambulance and waited for police. He wasn't under the influence of anything but geez, the poor guy has to live with that movie playing in his mind for the rest of his life and know he played an uninvited role in ending the life of a woman.

Most of us have accepted that we're probably not going to control the manner of our own deaths but being unable to prevent participating in the death of another? Seems like we should be able to do that. We fence our pools, install smoke detectors, inspect our food, fasten our seatbelts, label poisons, sign our roads, test our cars, tie up our dogs, lock up the guns, child proof our medicine bottles, put flame retardant pajamas on our kids, bolt, tag, inoculate, latch, inspect, ticket, legislate, and STILL somebody's granny wanders off in the middle of the night and freezes to death in a ditch and STILL some poor mother wakes up every morning to realize she forgot to take a stuffed animal out of the crib and her infant suffocated on it.

Despite our best efforts to avoid it, death happens. And, every time it does, somebody wishes they had done something different to prevent it. I'm in no way saying that we shouldn't legislate safety standards. We should and we do. And yeah, drunks belong in jail. But death is not always preventable. Neither, apparently, is our participation in somebody else's.

Maybe the woman who stepped out in front of John Singleton was ill or distraught or distracted. I dunno. But she is culpable. Yet I bet Singleton wishes he'd taken a different road that day.

Sooner or later, every one of us finds ourselves in a situation where we wish we had taken a different road. But the cruel truth is that often, the roles we play in life and in death are forced upon us.


Mike Scherer said...


My prayers and thoughts are with both Mr. Singleton and that woman's family.

Just last week my niece was involved in a traffic accident that left her with a lacerated liver and killed her passenger.

It was late at night, raining, and she was lost. At a red light she skidded through the intersection and a speeding pickup truck T-boned her vehicle on the passenger side. Her friend was 18.

Not really any one's fault although technically, she ran a red light. But consider the factors: wet roads, speeding truck, failure to use a seat belt properly. Anyone of those things could have changed that young girl's life (my niece and her friend). Fortunately my niece has loving parents and a supportive family. Also, her friend's parents do not blame her for what happened. They've told her that they love her and that things happen for a reason.

We should all be that kind and understanding to others.


MaryAn Batchellor said...

Heartbreaking. Truly. These kinds of emotional wounds may not ever heal. She'll just learn to live with them after asking "what if" in a thousand different ways. Poor child. And her friend's family must be devastated but what remarkable people they are to be so forgiving so soon. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I guess he went to the David Foster school of driving...