I am not sure if you have had the opportunity to watch grazing cows at all. If not, go ahead and do this sometime. When a shot goes off or some other loud noise suddenly occurs, cows will lift their heads for a moment and then keep grazing again as if nothing happened. People are really no different. Once we are in traffic, town, the mall, or just simple amongst other people it will take something totally outrageous and/ or personally threatening for us to notice it and actually do something about it. Much like anything else in life, it takes effort to focus on what is out of place and then do something about it.
The reason I included the photo of my granddad standing on the side of my freshly crashed car a quite a few years back is because it is a case in point for the above phenomenon. I had just finished the car 12 hours prior to taking off for a trip to Southern Germany where I was supposed to pick up a rare old motor cycle from a good friend. I had had no time to put the bumpers on the car because I had run out of time the night before the trip. That turned out to be more economical that way later. You will see what I mean in a sec. In order to be able to transport the old motor cycle I had loaned a special motor cycle trailer from a friend. Since Northern Bavaria is a very pretty and curvy place, I had also strapped my own motor cycle to the trailer. I was looking forward to taking a ride with my friend while visiting him. With the trailer attached to the car and all my stuff packed into the car I took off very early in the day.
Mind you this was well before the day and age of cell phone and GPS. Needless to say I got totally lost about 2.5 hours away from home. I was traveling down a 4 lane highway with no divider when I tried looking at the map sitting on the passenger seat in order to get me back on track. That is when it happened: I veered off the right side of the road and before I could react I hit and knocked down two road side markers. In Germany these are made from pretty darn solid wood/ plastic material that made an impressive “thump” when the front of my car hit them. In order to avoid hitting a third I jerked the steering wheel around and guess what, I totally forgot that I had a trailer attached to the car. I fishtailed once or twice and then ran out of steering wheel travel and thus could no longer compensate for where the car was taken me on its own. Off I shot over to the left of the road across the median and the other side of the road. I went through a row of apple trees that I miraculously missed and then I went down a 20 foot embankment, went through a farm land fence before I rolled the car over just to come back down on all four wheels.
Thank God I was buckled up. That was really a good thing and I did not sustain one bit of injury! I am not sure if you have ever been in an accident, but everything slows down and I will never forget how I saw all my stuff in the car tumble around in slow motion. The front wind shield had popped out and the engine cooling fan made an incredible noise as it was clearing a path through the cooler core. Not a pretty sight – the paint on the exterior was only 12 hours old! The car was a total loss with the frame twisted and major body parts quite mangled. I found the motor cycle trailer off the hitch 15 feet behind the car. No idea how it came off the car during the whole accident and there was not even a scratch on it. My friend was appreciative of it when I dropped it off a few days after this incident.
Then I looked for my motor cycle. I could not find it for almost 20 minutes and I only found it by mere coincidence. While I had veered off to the left side and disappeared down the embankment with my car, my motor cycle ripped off the trailer and went the other way to the right. It slid through the roadside ditch a good 40 yards before it hit an apple tree. The impact was violent enough breaking the front forks, crushing part of the gas tank and to top it off it also bent the main frame. In less than a couple of seconds I went from having four and two wheel to having no transportation at all.
Mind you by now a full 45 minutes alongside a busy highway had passed with not one car as much as slowing down to see what was going on. On foot I went toward the nearest village where I found a small gas station and much to my surprise the attendant had an old slightly defective – yet fully functional – radiator that would fit my car. The man was nice enough dropping me off at my wreck site with a few tools, the radiator (a complete steal at 8 Bucks!) and a bucket of water. I installed the cooler after rearranging the front end by ways of employing a tow rope tied around a tree and giving it a good tug. I attached the trailer to the car and drove it back up onto the highway next to where the motor cycle had come to a rest. After another hour a VW Golf with two young guys finally stopped and asked what had happened. Wise guys. Like this needed an explanation.
They helped me put the busted remnants of a motor cycle onto the trailer. I thanked them and they went their way and I tried to head home. Well, I could not go on without also having to change the driver’s side rear tire because the rollover bent the living daylights out of it and driving the car that way would have been rather unpleasant. Upon finished this – again, no one stopped during this pit stop either – I went back to the gas station to drop off the bucket and tools. Since I did not want to leave the scene without getting to know whose fence I had flattened, I asked the attendant who the owner of the meadow was. I got the name and address of the farmer and off I went to visit him. After a little bit of searching I found the address and rang the bell. The guy was a gentleman and he only took $30 from me for fixing the fence, which he could not have heard me correctly. I had plowed through and obliterated a good 15 yard section of it that should have cost him more to fix than I had given him money for. He did not want any part of that though and so I went on my way home.
Remember how far away from home I had been when the accident happened? I had to go the 2.5 hours back home with no wind shield in the late fall. Even though the heat was at full blast, only my feet stayed somewhat warm. Worse yet, it was getting dark and the only thing I had protecting my eyes from all the little debris flung up in the air in front of me by cars and trucks were my sun glasses. When I pulled in at home I looked like a raccoon once I took my shades off, because of all the grime that had accumulated on my face. More interestingly, almost 9 hours had gone by since the accident and all but one car stopped to help. No one looked at me long enough and even the police did not stop me throughout the whole day. The whole time I had been going through densely populated areas and I had been on very busy highways and streets going through villages and towns.
I am hoping you are getting a chuckle from my little visit to the Dark Force that day. Also, I am sure that you may have your own examples of where no one noticed you even though you looked outrageous or you did something wild. It takes quite a bit to really get people’s attention any more. Sometimes this is helpful although most of the time it is more of a detriment. When you need help the most, you may not get it because people skate right by you and your outcry for help. Just think of the many homeless people on one side of the spectrum. And then again, think of people you know who may be silently crying out for help right now and your radar does not pick that up. Next time you hear a load noise, look and stay up a little longer and do not start grazing again too soon – you may be missing a great story and a great opportunity to be a helpful hero sometime.