While I was writing yesterday’s post I was reminded of a very sad call some years ago.
An elderly gentleman had been out driving. For some reason, best known to him, he decided to execute a U-turn in the middle of a major road. During the manoeuver another car came shooting round the corner and ploughed into him. No one was really hurt. A bit shaken and stirred perhaps. I can’t be sure, I wasn’t there. Nevertheless, as is often the case, the police were called; statements were taken and a breathalyser requested. No alcohol involved. As a parting comment, the policeman advised our gentleman that he was probably going to be “prosecuted for diving ‘without due care and attention’ “.
PROSECUTED.. Prosecuted.. prosecuted…
All the way home the word reverberated round his brain. He’d never been in trouble with the law before: no speeding fines, no parking tickets, nothing. He was devastated. Now I’ve no idea what the penalty for driving ‘without due care and attention’ is likely to be, perhaps our friend Bystander could enlighten us. To this gentleman however, being prosecuted meant ‘going to jail’. How would he cope? How would his wife cope without him? How could he endure the shame in front of his family and friends? It was more than he could bear. That evening, he did what he felt any self-respecting English gentleman would do in such a situation; he retired to the garage, took down the step ladder, found a length of rope…
…and hanged himself from the rafters!
And that’s where I came in. Luckily he was hopeless at knots. He ended up face down, flat on the concrete floor. A broken nose, a few loose teeth, lots of bumps and bruises and his pride in tatters. In the back of the bus he shamefully told me what had happened. I tried to console him. I explained that at worst it’ll probably mean a fine, a few points on his licence and, at worse, a small article on page 26 of the local ‘rag’. “No one would ever know”. “It could happen to anyone”.
I pass his house quite often. It’s not far from where I used to live. It went up for sale not long afterwards. I do hope he managed to come to terms with what happened. I pray he didn’t try again.
This call always reminds me of how the most innocent of comments can be devastating to someone who doesn’t understand what’s happening. We need to be so aware of everything we say, no matter how innocent.