By Steve Kivel
"Do you know why they call this an accident?"
It wasn't the first question the big smiling cop asked. His first question had been to ask if I was the guy that wrote those articles for the AROUND TOWN. This was immediately followed by, "Do you know why they call this an accident?"
"That's a good question," I said leaning up against what used to be my car. "You can answer it as soon as I ask a few of my own."
Why do we in Michigan call any part of March or April Spring? Spring has images of birds sitting in newly green trees against a blue sky singing, while the scent of early blooming flowers fills the air. This is in contrast to the freeze at night, thaw in the morning, gray drizzle being interrupted by torrential downpour, miserable never reaching above 45 degree days we experience in Michigan. Why don't we call the season what it is, MUD. That way I could say, "One miserable morning early in the season of Mud, I was driving fast down a busy four lane road. I was not speeding, I had on my cruise control."
"What do we call that?" I asked pointing at the water in the road a few yards behind my car. "When I was driving through it I thought, 'This is too big to be a puddle.' It's actually somewhere between a puddle and a lake. It's not a big lake, but if I saw a few good size fish in it, it wouldn't surprise me. Hell, I'd let my son swim in it if it didn't cross four lanes of traffic. I remember thinking to myself while I hydroplaned through it, 'This is too big to be a puddle.'"
Why when things are going really bad, do people do things that their only purpose is to annoy me? For instance, let's say, you're hydroplaning across several lanes of oncoming traffic. There are many things the drivers could do as the bear down on you, while you careen out of control, through their lanes. They could move over to the lane I vacated. I left it open for them. They could stop their cars and not continue driving straight at me. They could pray to what ever God they believe in, that we don't end up on the six o'clock news, with Mort Crim wincing as he describes the carnage. They don't do any of that. They beep their horns and point, because maybe I'm not aware that I'm spinning through their lanes.
Here's a question, are all safety devices annoying? Having just been in an accident, I can tell you seatbelts do a heck of a job. At the right moment they are a boon, but mostly they are just annoying. Maybe there are some people with car bondage fetishes that find comfort in the restraint, but for most for us they are bothersome. Cruise control is the same way. I'm sure there is a good reason why when you're hydroplaning it shuts off. I'm sure it saves lives, but when you finally get control of your car and need to move just a few feet to the safety of the shoulder of the road, it's annoying.
Do people expect you to answer dumb questions? Someone clips the corner of your car as you try to get to the shoulder, spins it around like a top and throws it into a ditch. Your car rolls over on it's side. The big angry goober runs out of his car and screams, "Do you know what you just did?"
"No," I snapped, "I just got here. I must have missed everything." Then I rolled up my window and waited for the police.
"Those are MY questions, but do you know what?" I said to the big cop. "I don't care about the answers. The only question I want answered is yours, WHY DO THEY CALL IT AN ACCIDENT?"
The cop smiled, "You wouldn't have done this on purpose, right?" No I would not have, trust me.
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