Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cruel Drool

Case files arrive in orderly stack, set at right angles, along the left side of my desk. Transmittal sheets, demand letters, police reports, claim activity indexes, and the never-ending assembly line of medical records, chiropractor narratives, and massage logs.

One case blurs into the next. Rear-ender. T-bone. Side-swipe. Air bags. Seat belts. Neck pain. Head ache. Lumbar disc bulge. MRI. Wage loss.

And then the whining begins.

But, it's all so much white noise, formless buzzing, without meaning. It is all so sterile and distant. It's words on paper and lies under oath. The abstract idea of a crash holds no emotional meaning for me any longer.

But then, the weather changes, and on a day like today, at slightly higher elevations, like that around my office, the temperature dips below freezing. The bright blue January sky lets the warmth contained by clouds to evaporate, and the northwest rain-soaked streets become ice skating rinks.

I sat eating a yellowy goo at the Mediterranean buffet, just up the hill from my office. The goo was good, and tasted unidentifiably familiar. I sat beside the big bay window facing the street. Slowly, one-by-one, I began to notice the cars heading up the hill having more and more problems. The ice sheet was thickening, doing nothing for uphill traction.

One unfortunate lady ("dumb bitch" according to my lunch companion) refused to put down her cell phone while she careened one-handed backward down the hill in her minivan. Eventually, a tire caught a patch of dry pavement and she stopped, straddling the line, blocking both lanes of traffic, still talking on the phone.

While she waited, the impatient man in the Volvo behind her made an end run. Now, Volvos are great cars, with great safety control features. However, ice is ice, and rubber is rubber.

He slid out of control inches from the minivan. The boy sitting behind me gaped with amazement. His dad gave an, "oh Oh OH!" My lunch buddy grinned with grizzly excitement. Even I, jaded as I am to the very notion of an automobile collision, set my jaw against the gory exhilaration. I wanted so badly, with passionate desire, to see the metal twist, and to hear the screech and ripple of a tearing fender. I wanted to hear the crack and smash of breaking glass.

But it never came.

Moments later, another car slid by, down the slope, on a trajectory toward another van stopped at the bottom of the ill. And again, disaster was averted by mere inches. The disappointment of the patrons and wait staff, now gathered around our window seat was palpable. The spectators, all of us, wanted action. We wanted to see the crash. We wanted to witness the destruction. I, for one, felt a lust-like urgency for it to happen.

ultimately, I was let down. Probably for the best. No one, it seems, was hurt. It wasn't until later, upon reflection, while I drove the monkey home from monkey care, that I contemplated the feelings that I had experienced. Was it blood lust? Perhaps. Though I wished no specific ill on the participants.

Why is it that millions of NASCAR fans pay big money to watch hours of racing with the mere hope of a five second thrill? Why does freeway traffic stall for miles behind rubbernecking gawkers at an accident scene? Why do we revel in the ill-fate of others?

Maybe it's just me. I'm really OK with that.

I suspect, though, that it's all of us. Maybe it's curiosity. Maybe it's a subconsciously sadistic surge. Maybe it's an inherent celebration of our Darwinian superiority over the less-fit in our gene pool.

Who knows.

I do know that my companion and I both drove out of the parking lot, leaving much room in front of and behind our cars. I, for one, got back to my office in one piece.

11 comments:

  1. Car accidents are fun. I recommend at least one every five years. It's our duty as insurance premium payers to keep all the honest and empathetic lawyers in business.

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  2. your big accident would have been extra fun to watch.

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  3. I hope you get a toothache the next time you are down here.

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  4. Have you ever notice that the more minor the injury, the louder the whining? I've had clients that have lost legs, won't ever walk again, had major surgeries. And every one of them has had the attitude that "Shit happens, I'm lucky to be alive." Then I have the clients with one doctor visit that email me DAILY about the impact it's had on their lives, how it's all so unjust, how they'll never get over it. Once, just once, I'd like to put one of my mangled beyond hope of medical repair clients in a room with the whiplash whiners. I'd like to hope it would make the whiners shut the hell up. Probably wouldn't.

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  5. So if it's ok to admit it's fun to watch a car accident, can I say I love it when a patient has a cardiac arrest on my shift?
    Because I do, it makes my day, Im an Adrenaline junkie

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  6. You may not have wished ill will on any of the drivers on the hill yesterday, but I think the dumb bitch with the cell phone deserved a little brain damage. You could almost see her saying in to her phone, "OMIGOD! My Jeep is, like, totally, sliding backwards and I'm, like, sooo in the wrong lane now. Like, I so totally don't know what's happening." Brain damaage could only improve her situation in life.

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  7. Speaking of client's...one of mine just died. Too bad for Bri it wasn't in a spectacular car accident. Rest in peace, Ms. C.

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  8. I'm driving over the pass Sunday morning to ski before depositions in Bend Monday. Wish me luck with all the "dumb bitches" and "red neck assholes" as I drove over the icy pass.

    Its much more enjoyable to see a "red neck asshole" pass me in his rusted jacked up Ford pick up slide off the road into a ditch than a "dumb bitch" cluelessly spinning her wheels while talking on a cell phone.

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  9. and even much more enjoyable to see a "red neck asshole" pass Ryan in his rusted jacked up Ford pick up and slide off the road into a "dumb bitch" cluelessly spinning her wheels while talking on a cell phone.

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  10. The panty6:08 PM

    I'm still clean.

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  11. One word, and it's one of my favorites:

    Schadenfreude.

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