A few years back I was driving around, trying to encourage the baby to take a nap in the back of the car. Eventually I realised she had no intention of dozing so I admitted defeat and headed for home.
I took a turn off the main road, through what I assumed to be a cross-country shortcut. This straight road soon narrowed and split. I stuck to the wider (though not by much) route and came to an intersection with many signposts. Choosing a path pointing somewhat in the direction of home I continued.
More intersections followed, mostly now with no signposts. Soon I was tearing past crossroad after crossroad, forks and T-Junctions. Where there were signs they mostly contradicted each other. That didn’t bother me of course -I relied solely on my instinctive sense of direction. My internal compass points unfailingly to Home at all times.
Now I noticed none of these intersections had any Yield or Stop signs. Who was in the right when a narrow road intersected with a slightly narrower (or broader) road? Could the bigger narrow road be considered the ‘main’ road? Of course one should “yield right of way”, but here there were subtle size differences that suggested maybe one was THE MAIN road and another was where you need to stop. It was all somewhat confusing, but almost pleasantly so.
I turned a corner and came across a motorbike in the middle of yet another crossroads that had apparently just crashed into a JCB that was entering the junction. The biker was picking himself up and the JCB driver was already out of his cab. Immediately I noticed both were young -less than twenty, maybe eighteen.
The JCB driver was very distraught. He cried that he just came to the junction and the bike flew out of nowhere. The biker was limping but otherwise appeared ok. I asked if he was ok. He was. No bleeding or any other apparant cuts. We picked up the bike.
To my untrained eye the damage seemed “serious but superficial”, but both crash-participants gasped and cried when they saw it. Some plastic sections were smashed in and smashed out. There were a few large dents and scrapes. It couldn’t be driven right away, but the mechanics of it looked ok and it could be wheeled, so we decided to push it out of the centre of the corssroads, onto the embankment. Several parts stayed on the road as we did.
I hadn’t passed any other vehicles since leaving the main road, but just then another car arrived on the scene. The woman inside glanced and drove on, crunching bike parts under her wheels.
I asked the two guys if either of them needed to be brought someplace or if I could do anymore. The JCB driver said he had a mobile phone and he would ring somebody. The biker then looked at the other guy and recognised him “Gearóid isn’t it?”. The driver said yes.
I knew they weren’t going to come to blows or anything so I pointed out I had a baby in the car (who was stretching to see what was going on) and I had to go. They seemed calm and waved me off.
I continued my journey as I thought of the events that had ocurred. I had deliberately avoided asking exactly what had happened in case of dispute later on -I hadn’t seen anything happen anyway, so it’s not like I was a material witness.
More T-junctions and Y-junctions flitted past. Now I knew I was only guessing the way, but had complete confidence in my navigational prowess. GPS? Pah!
I looked behind. The baby was gazing happily out the window, musing on trees or bunny rabbits or whatever it is a two-year old muses on.
I turned a corner and came to a junction with several broken plastic parts in the middle of the road. A JCB stood directly in front of me. My head went dizzy as I realised where I was. I wanted to sink into the ground. The biker emerged from behind the JCB. At first I feigned concern “ye’re still alright are ye?”
He was in good spirits and told me they were fine and someone was on the way. I had to laugh then and pointed out I hadn’t a clue where I was going, but before the biker could reply the JCB driver stumbled past with his head in his open hands. “Oh God no” was all he was repeating over and over. Just then he paused and looked up as though realising for the first time there was a car nearby. In doing so, he caught the big stupid cheesy grin that was now frozen across my face. I didn’t think asking for directions was the right thing to do under the circumstances.
I straightened myself and became the voice of authority. “It’ll be alright” I assured him.
He paused as though snatching at a comfort and looked straight at me with pleading eyes. Clearly he needed more. “It could’ve been a lot worse” I told him.
His face dropped into his hands once more and he walked off.
“Don’t worry about it -It’ll be alright -its not that bad” I called after, more desperately as my hand found first gear and my foot eased down on the accelerator.
“Good luck” was my final authoritative gesture as I sped away, praying I wouldn’t end up back at that crossroads once again.
Thankfully I didn’t.