Fate's Fence.

I was driving home from O'Hare International airport when I saw a semi truck move from the left lane into the right lane, nearly demolishing the Honda Accord that was already there, which would have killed the driver inside and probably many of the other drivers in the cars following behind.

The semi driver saw the Honda just in time and swerved back into his lane, however, the Honda had already begun emergency maneuvers to avoid the collision. Fortunately, when the Honda kicked sideways and popped into the air, the front end had managed to make it into the grass on the side of the highway which kept the car from flipping completely over. Instead, the Honda came crashing back down on all four wheels and went skidding off into the mud. I was maybe five car lengths away from the scene, immediately following the semi. If the Honda had been hit, I'm certain I would have been slammed into a jack-knifed semi, slicing off the roof of my car and probably parts of me with it.

Myself and another driver immediately pulled over as quickly and as safely as possible. I shut off my car as both myself and the other driver jumped out our passenger doors. I grabbed my cell phone as I shut my door and then approached the second witness. While she was dialing 911, we both hurried back to the accident. As we made our way down the road, I helped her and the County Sheriff's Department with our relative location to Milwaukee and any other information we could assist with. As we approached the Honda we became aware that the driver had not come out of the car and that there was no movement inside the car.

Our footsteps became faster and faster and my mind began to play with ideas of the worst kind. If the driver is injured, it's important not to move her. Wait for paramedics. If she's bleeding I can use my shirt as a bandage or tunicate if I have to. Apply pressure to stop the bleeding and try to help her to remain calm. The Sheriff said he would be there shortly. When we were ten feet from the car, the tires spun and made the car lurched backward. The driver was conscious. She was trying to dislodge the car. I can't describe to you the relief I felt.

The driver, a young girl in her early twenties, was terribly shaken up, as you can imagine. We helped her out of the car and to catch her breath. And more than that, we reminded her that maybe she should have a cigarette and wait for the Police to arrive. Her hands were trembling as she clutched her cigarette when she spoke her first words. "I really thought I was going to die." Ironically, she was wearing a shirt with the word "AVALON" printed in neat, crisp, glittery letters.

It was at this time another man came by to make sure she was okay, and she assured everyone she was. I spoke with this gentleman about what I saw and he became visibly irritated. "I drive truck for a living… See, I have a commercial license; it gives us all a bad rep. when something like this happens. Did you see what kind of truck it was?" No, I didn't. Just that it was a reddish, brown, eighteen-wheeler. When it all happened I was too busy concentrating on the Honda to examine the truck. The truck that had never bothered to stop. The truck that continued to ramble on down the highway after nearly killing us all. The truck that contains a driver who I am guessing has no feelings of remorse, guilt, or responsibility.

And then, here was this other guy. This guy who was driving down the road and saw the aftermath of the accident and went out of his way to stop and make sure we were all okay. Now, it's important to note the following: This was at 4:45 P.M. - 21 miles south of Milwaukee, in high traffic through a two lane construction zone. Hundreds of cars had passed us in this short amount of time. This guy was just a good citizen who wanted to help. He was on the way to "pick up his old lady" who I presumed was at the Milwaukee Airport. He was to pick her up at 5:00. This guy had other things to do. Also, this guy had been drinking. I think, quite a bit, as he felt the need to mention it to me in private. He was pretty sure I could smell it on him and he was right. He also knew he was going to have to talk with the Police and even though he knew he was sober enough to drive ("Hadn't had a drink in four hours" he said.) he knew he had the smell of booze on him… A smell I recognized as Jim Beam and Marlboro. But, he went up against all of this to help out another person in need. He put himself on the line to offer any assistance he could and for that, I will always admire him.

Now, we're all very lucky. The girl was safe. No one was injured. Her car was towed out of the ditch with only minor damage to her alignment and perhaps her shocks. The officers took my statement and made sure I made my way out into traffic safely. But, when I drove away I couldn't help but think of one little thing: There are still assholes and good Samaritans in the world. There are still people who live only for themselves, wrapped up in their own worries and problems and there are some people who simply don't. And while I thought about all of this I realized that I didn't have to stop. I could have just kept driving, quietly thanking the gods that I made it out of there alive. Let the other witnesses handle the situation and go home and go about my business. So I sat and I thought about the two sides of the fence we all live on and came to the conclusion, "I'm just glad that this time I wound up on the right side."

*Look for Mr. Sweeney's article "Rabbit's Feet and Four Leaf Clovers" later this week.

**The opinions expressed in Weekly Commentary are those of Mr. Sweeney and his alone.  Any attempt at finding sanity or logic in his rantings are feeble, at best.