Accidents happen

Foto of the road entering the Free State, on the Vaal

We were driving from the Free State to Gauteng on a rainy day

Jane and I were chatting about our periods when we saw the police car parked in the middle of the highway.

Slow down. Worry about wallet’s location. Stress about all the illegal narcotics we don’t have on us.

A man with a solemn face waves and directs us to take a left to pass one of the barricades. Curious, we look to the right to see what all the fuss is about.

It was difficult to decipher what we were looking at at first, but once we saw it we gasped. There on the cold, wet N1 highway was what could only be described as a man’s carcass. A wreck close by indicated that he had been driving a motorcycle.

We use to be torn apart by lions, now we die by motorcycle.

I immediately wished we hadn’t seen it. It was burned into my mind and would keep nagging in the background whenever I relaxed.

If only life had warning signs so we could choose what we see and what we don’t see. If I had had that choice, what would I have chosen? Would curiosity get the better of me and I’d sneak a peek only to regret it or would I wilfully look away and pretend a man hadn’t been ripped apart on the road today?

It’s difficult to say. Do we embrace the bad things because they are real or should we dip our feet in the lakes of lala-land and pretend shit like this doesn’t happen every day?

Paramedics, journalists, judges and police officer are some of the people who see these kinds of things on a regular basis. I’d like to know how they remain sane. Booze and a good dose of disconnection maybe?

I don’t want to go through life with blinkers on. That however doesn’t mean I’ll wilfully put myself through a video of animals being tortured or child slaves working in a factory. Knowing and seeing are two different thing. Knowing poverty is a statistical problem and seeing the shacks along the highway are two different things.

When a newspaper editor was asked why they keep putting stories about rape and murder on the front page he said it’s because people have to know about these things happening, he used the metaphor of a child having to eat their vegetables even though they don’t want to. I think the decline of newspaper sales and the huge success of reality television shows indicate public opinion swings the other way. We don’t want to know. We want to escape.

Maybe all we need is a spoon full of sugar to make the realism go down. And by sugar I mean heroin. Kidding. Unless we’re talking Wonder Women, in that case hells yeah.

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