Saturday, March 15, 2014

Wrestling with lack of sympathy

Our neighborhood is very quiet, so the police cars, ambulance and blocking off of the south entrance with police tape this past week was cause for much discussion.

During the night, a guy and gal in their early twenties were apparently riding a motorcycle/motorbike down the parkway that parallels our neighborhood, doing excessive speed (I've heard suggestions of 120 mph).  The driver lost control of the bike, his passenger hit the sound barrier and died instantly (we are told).  He continued on the bike, knocked over a small evergreen tree as he drove behind the sound barrier, was thrown or fell off the bike (which then continued on until it, too, fell over).

The neighbor noticed the bodies early the next morning.  No helmets.

The site of the accident, specifically the sound barrier and the destroyed evergreen, have become the homes of makeshift memorials.  Cemetery flowers, small balloons, homemade crosses.

People have been visiting the site, parking along the entrance of the neighborhood.

This morning the friends and family of the victims will be participating in a funeral ride of ATVs, motorbikes, motorcycles on the way to the funeral home, which will include passing by and stopping at the accident site.

And I know this is wrong, I know my feelings are not charitable or sympathetic or kind, but the whole thing really aggravates me.

First, the shallow thing.

I hate, hate makeshift memorials that I see lining highways and expressways.  Aside from looking tacky, they are a distraction to drivers, as if drivers need any more distractions besides their cell phones.

Second, the annoying thing.

In general, even in circumstances that are not this particular one, I'm not sure I understand the need to see the accident site of fatalities.  When family dies in the hospital, it is not customary to visit the hospital room in which the person died.  We have funeral homes and cemeteries for this purpose, to pay respect to the dead and to support the family.  I suspect it is the shock of the event that causes people to feel the need to see "where it happened."  Having never experienced this, I have a hard time understanding this need.

The annoying thing, for me anyway, is that the site of this accident is not a highway or expressway.  It is a neighborhood.  People parking right at the entrance and wandering around is both distracting and dangerous to the drivers who are pulling into the neighborhood.  As much as I hate that I feel annoyed by these folks, who are doing what they feel they need to do to assuage their grief, I feel annoyed nonetheless.

Third, the "this just makes me an asshole" thing.

If there is anyone for whom I feel great sympathy, it is the child of the motorbike driver, whom I believe is 4 years old.  Not only do I feel sympathy for her because she lost her dad, I feel sympathy for her because I wonder how secure her life has been up to this point.  Her dad was 18 when she was born, and I don't think anyone is ready for the responsibility of parenthood when still a teenager.  I'm 40, and I have many times when I think I am not ready for this responsibility.
It makes me angry that this guy did have a daughter and yet was running around on a Monday night in the wee hours with his girlfriend, driving without a helmet on a motorbike, using excessive speed.  I can't muster a whole lot of sympathy for the victims.  It was an accident waiting to happen.

And I feel guilty for thinking all this stuff.

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