Friday, June 29, 2007


My neighborhood is reeling from a horrific car accident. On a very busy thoroughfare (four lanes of traffic, two in each direction), someone saw a parking spot on the opposite side of the street. She decided to make a u-turn across three lanes of traffic, and failed to negotiate it. She slammed onto the sidewalk, critically injuring one and killing another (the details of the injuries are too awful to delineate here). The site of the accident is directly across from a municipal parking lot. This woman now has to live with the fact that at least one person is dead because she needed a parking spot.

Technically, the word careless means indifferent to the consequences. We use the word careless when we forget to pick up the dry-cleaning; or when a child forgets his assignment pad. I've called myself careless on those occasions when I have gone to the grocery store for milk, but walked out with $35.00 worth of groceries and no milk. In none of these examples, has the person been forgetful or lacking in the face of consequences. But the woman who caused the accident committed a traffic violation, willingly, because her needs were paramount. She needed a parking spot, and she was willing to risk a ticket to land it.

The horror is that she risked so much more. She risked people's lives. She was truly careless: she was indifferent to the consequences. Of course she couldn't envision that she would take a life, but when she failed to care about the consequences of crossing three lanes of traffic, illegally, she opened the door to the probability of random, indiscriminate consequences. And while she has to live with that fact for the rest of her life, I'll venture that the families of both of her victims are not consoled by that.

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