Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Tale of Two Lorries

This is a story that I feel I should share with you. It needs to be shared if only because it could apply to anyone . . . to anyone in a low car, to anyone on a bicycle . . . but also because I'm so very fortunate to be here to tell the story.
Through you, I need to say a heartfelt 'thank you'.

But you're wanting to know what happened.
It was a week ago, and I was driving westwards on the inside lane along Bayswater Road. The traffic was quite heavy and, fortunately as things turned out, I was travelling quite slowly. It was a glorious spring morning and, to my left, the blossom was bursting in Kensington Gardens. I was nearly home.

Then it happened . . . a horrendous crunching sound . . . a tearing of metal
immediately behind and to the right of where I was sitting . . . a loss of control as my car was forcibly swung to the right so that I found myself hard up against the front wheels of a large lorry. No time to be scared . . . no time for anything. Quite dispassionately, I concluded that my time had come.

But, no . . . the lorry driver managed to stop his vehicle. The car ceased to spin and came to a shuddering halt. After a moment of surprised realisation that I was still alive, I struggled to push open the crushed door and staggered out into the road.

A pale-faced, young lorry-driver was scrambling down from his vehicle.
"You were in my blind spot . . ." he protested, as though this explained everything, "your car . . . it was in my blind spot."
"You shouldn't have a blind spot!" was all I could manage to reply.

We exchanged details. Then, holding the damaged door to prevent it bursting open, I managed to drive to the garage and thence home. I felt shocked and shaken. My little car, also shocked and shaken, waited outside the house for the formalities to be completed.

Which brings us up to the present, or, to be precise, yesterday. What I never expected was that the story would end with a laugh.
I think you're going to enjoy this . . .

Yesterday morning, a week after the accident, I learned that my car needed to go for assessment. My plan was to drive to the garage, and then take a bus into Central London to meet a friend. Despite all it had been through, my seventeen-year-old car started up perfectly. True, I had to grasp the driver's door to keep it in place, but there was nothing wrong with the engine.

At this point, what should I see approaching down the narrow road but an outsize lorry. Made cautious by my recent experience, I pulled over to the left to let it pass. But no . . . the lorry drew alongside and then came to an unexpected halt. I was trapped. Looking upwards, I caught sight of a burly driver peering down at me from the cabin. He was a big man. The muscular arm leaning out of the window was covered with prominent tattoos. This, I felt, was not the sort of lorry driver I wanted to argue with.
However, he clearly wanted to talk to me. With energetic gestures, he was pointing down at my driver's door.
Did he want to tell me that my door was broken and that I shouldn't be driving?
This was absurd . . . surely he realised that I knew my predicament?

Unable to open my window on account of the damage, I signaled through the glass that I was fully aware of the car's condition, and that there was no need to tell me about it.
He continued to register concern and I grew increasingly perplexed. Finally, pushing open the damaged door, I leaned out.
At this point, the burly lorry driver gave a broad smile of relief and pointed at the road.

"Your coat . . . !" he shouted.
My coat . . . ? I looked down.
Preoccupied with keeping the door in place, I had been totally unaware that my coat had trailed out through the newly-created gap and, had it not been for the concern of the thoughtful lorry driver, would have been torn to shreds on the road!
Peering upwards, I did my best to express my gratitude.

An hour later, before meeting my friend in Piccadilly, I made a detour into St. James's church. Here, after reflecting on the blessing that I was still alive, I lit a candle.
I lit it for the three of us. For both the lorry drivers . . . the young, pale one who hadn't really meant to hit me, and the burly, tattooed one who had gone out of his way to rescue my trailing coat . . . and I also lit the candle for me, the driver.
The driver who is so grateful to have survived, and who can now sit here, unscathed, and tell you all about it!