Candice Nolan / Mar 15, 2019


I was involved in two accidents this morning. Both on my morning run. I feel a certain kind of way about them.

As with many, I tend to drive mindlessly. A kind of auto pilot. As someone once pointed out, I live in my head. I was in the slow lane on a familiar route. I heard a bump, and when I looked in my rear view mirror, I saw a man toppling head first over his bicycle into the road. I immediately stopped, reversed my car and got out to check on the cyclist.

He was fine, he said, as he attempted to roll his bent bicycle onto the pavement. I offered to take him to the hospital or a nearby clinic. He declined, as he inspected his right arm. He said he needed to be in Victory Park. A suburb, a long way out of my way. I muttered something about his bent bicycle not fitting in my car. I told him that I had to leave.

My two year old was wailing by the time I got back to my car. In my haste, I neglected to tell her where I was going or what was going on. I tried to console her. Eventually she settled when I started singing a song about her “binky” (pacifier). I was riddled with guilt. Guilt for leaving her unattended in the vehicle in the middle of morning traffic. Guilt over the cyclist, an elderly gentleman in workman’s clothes. I should have done more. I could have done more. Why did I leave him there?

The rest of the commute was without incident (besides her crying, and my singing over the binky). I dropped my daughter at school and bustled to work. I found myself in a little lane. I had to reverse my way out. And then the second bump. Same side. But this time my mirror was proper smashed. I had hit a sewerage pipe. Rookie mistake.

I bent the mirror casing back into place and clipped on beetroot’s (that’s my car) red cover as best I could. The mirror had dislodged from the casing and was lying shattered on the side. I pushed it back in. What a way to start a morning, huh?! Sigh. So now my new car, beetroot, has her first (of many, no doubt) battle scars. Her predecessor, a racy red number called Mielie, had her fair share of run ins with poles.

And pumpkin before her (my first) sported a cross shaped plaster over a scratch on her driver door. I always chuckle when I think of how durable those two plasters proved to be. I later saw a vehicle with a replica bumper sticker. I have always been a trend setter. But despite all my many bumper bashings, I have never before knocked a person or even an animal for that matter.

Although, there was this one time with Mielie, where I collided with a food delivery motorcycle. I messed up the guy’s clutch. Again, I stopped, exchanged details. He said he needed five hundred South African Rand to fix the damage. I had 0,00 South African rand at that time of the month. Because he is a foreigner, possibly illegal in the country, he begged me not to make a case. And, long story short, I got away with not having to pay for my negligence. In my defence, I did try to contact him once I had the money, but he was unreachable.

But the incident with the cyclist was worse. I wonder about the trauma he may be in. That bicycle was probably his only mode of transport. Would he ever regain the confidence to ride again? Was he really okay? I mean, what if he suffered concussion? I feel like the worst human being ever to have walked the earth.

Perhaps the mirror incident was a kind of karma? Or the cycle finishing? Something? On a level, I understand that there was nothing more that I could have done. That it was an accident. That I did the right thing by stopping to make sure he was okay. But on a human level, I fall short. Way short. “Driving a vehicle is like firing a loaded weapon”. That’s what my grandfather used to say. “You must consciously be aware of what you are doing. You are not only driving your vehicle, but the vehicles beside you, in front of you and behind you”.

I don’t heed these words. Driving on auto pilot. Living in my head. This is how accidents happen. It was my fault. And I didn’t do enough. I am sorry.

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