Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Silence

On my way to the second site I work in the afternoons, I turned onto a busy highway only to find it a parking lot. I'd been passed by a Fire truck and their Rescue van when I caught the briefest flicker of a blue light ahead. With their exit, I felt sure we'd be moving soon. After five minutes of listening to dollar bills burning up in my gas tank, I shut off the car and called the woman I work with. She said someone had stopped by to say the wreck was so bad, they'd had to call in the Medivac helicopter. Although I was about a half mile back, even with the straightaway I couldn't see a thing. That's when I realized something was really odd.

The silence was deafening.

Usually a wreck comes with the sounds of sirens, crunching glass or metal as the wrecker pulls cars apart, an officer yelling a verbal command to whomever has ignored his attempts to be heard above the noise. And yet, it was silent. Too silent. The slight breeze blowing through my window didn't whisper through the trees. It was mute. The birds had taken a vow of silence as well and not one spring time song could be heard. No officers were yelling, no wrecker was grinding gears to pull a car out of the way. Even the people behind me who had no patience or somewhere VERY important to be, were pulling off so quietly it was like watching a mirage. No tires barked on the pavement in frustration, no quick squeal of rubber indicating a driver's time was being wasted. It was like being in church...at a funeral. Everyone quietly respectful. I had to strain to determine what that sound was I finally did hear....a barely audible melody. The man in front of me had his radio on but it was turned down so low, it was like the background track to a sad film.

After fifteen minutes, we began crawling along. And yet it was still oddly quiet. One truck was on the wrecker, the other truck nose down in a ditch. From the looks of it, they'd hit head on. There were lots of extra Troopers on hand who evidently had blocked the road previously for a driver to be Medivaced out. Everyone standing around looked grim. No one spoke. Even nosy neighbors bobbed back and forth, shaking their heads but keeping their mouths closed. At the intersection a Deputy blocked one lane, directing traffic with a grim expression, a sad shake of the head when a driver indicated he wanted to turn. Even the remaining traffic, which usually zooms by at ridiculous speeds seemed to finally realize that fast can equal disaster. The blue lights were like an exclamation point on a list of DOs and DON'Ts.

Be careful. Slow down. Think twice. Or become eternally silent.

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