Four Seconds

As the first car in the line up to go through the intersection, he waited until the light went green. His foot touched the accelerator and the car entered the intersection, pretty much in lockstep with the truck in the lane one over. And then everything came to a sudden stop, his head whacking the door frame, with his car being shunted a metre from where it had previously been. A young driver – distracted obviously – had just flown through a red light and ploughed into his driver’s door. Eyewitnesses said the light had been red for four seconds, so it wasn’t a conscious last moment attempt to get through the intersection. Was a phone involved – that glowing portal of distractions that teleports concentration from geographical space into the glowing pixels dancing on the screen? A text message from a significant other? A check on Instagram? Unknown. Two cars damaged – probably beyond repair. Two young people – thankfully – only badly shaken rather than off to hospital with broken bones, or the morgue in advance of final farewells.

Four seconds of distraction.

Four hours quickly evaporated in checks by paramedics, calls to the insurance company, and supporters arriving in their vehicles with warm coats, words of concern, and the odd bite to eat. Eventually, after much waiting on hold with the insurance companies, plans for recovering the busted vehicles were hatched, and then after yet another indeterminable quantum of time, the recovery trucks arrived to load up what just hours before had been perfectly good cars. Such a waste.

Four seconds of distraction.

Four days passed, and then four more, and finally word was received that yes, the car would be written off. “How much do I get paid to get a new one?,” was the obvious question. “We’ll get back to you.”

Four seconds of distraction.

Another four days of waiting, and then, finally, confirmation of the amount, and surprisingly, pretty quick payment of the outstanding amount. Evenings given to other more pleasant activities became devoted to looking for a replacement vehicle, debating the pros and cons of this one versus that one, and finally, settling on what looked like the best option. For only several months worth of work earnings more than what was paid out by the insurance company.

Four seconds of distraction.

While his car was written off, his need to go to work every day wasn’t. 5am out of bed. 6am out the door. Home by 6’ish, or sometimes a bit earlier. So he got his father’s car “until you get your new one,” but as the days stretched into weeks, that caused its own annoyances for his father, now deprived of the vehicle he would normally use.

Four weeks later, and there’s a possibility that the new car will turn up shortly. It’s being shipped here from another city, and that inflicts its own waiting game on all involved.

Four seconds of distraction. Now 2.4 million seconds later, we’re almost there.

The seconds count, and if you don’t count them in seconds, someone will pay for them in the millions.

Categories: Miscellaneous