"Couldn't give a shit mate."

That's mostly what came out my mouth this morning.

Tuesday morning, the worst day of the week, traffic is worse, everywhere is gridlocked and it's neither the start of the week nor the end of it.

Every single car on the road. Every single driver. Every single traffic light, roundabout and crossing, it all feels like they've been placed there, by the road gods, specifically to get in my way.

There to irritate me and me alone.

I had some utter bastard in a BMW, or Audi - I cant remember which now - centimetres from my rear bumper, all the way to work, desperate to overtake.

In all fairness I knew the feeling, because in front of me was THE slowest, most nervous driver I've ever been stuck behind - which is quite a statement because I tend to be stuck behind them everywhere I go in the car. But this one...

Once I escaped that pincer movement, I was presented with the dodgem carnage that is the dual carriageway.

The biggest example of selfish space stealing I can think of.

Honestly, show someone a few inches and they’ll try to manoeuvre themselves at an angle and in front of you

Every which way I look people are on their phones, straightening their hair, applying makeup, singing full belt, beeping, arguing, shouting, picking their nose...anything but concentrating on driving.

No-one cares, everyone there to further themselves, their own journey.


And then...

Each of us in turn heard it. As if one by one we’d awoken from our own self important trance.

Just for a moment.

As is customary in these situations, you look in the rear view mirror first.

You watch each car part, moving left or right, in order to create that all important opening in the middle of the road.

The sirens. The flashing blue lights.

We know what to do without thinking. Without care or consideration for ourselves.

We move.

We move because we know someone needs us to. We move because we know there’s a journey more important than ours. We move because we know someone needs help.

I watched every single car, ahead and behind, get out the way. Driving up onto pavements, getting as close to the central reservation as possible - even if it meant a small scratch or a pushed in wing mirror.

We all do it.

It’s like a parting sea.

And as the ambulance passes we look on in all honesty, grateful it’s not us that needs it, but grateful also that if it was, another crowd of strangers would do the same.

Even to my eyes...

...things aren’t always so bad.

The Stranger
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