Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Odd Thing Seen

Coming in to work today I was struck by a memory from about 3 years ago. It’s not a gay topic, and may not be interesting (presuming my other posts are :-)), but it’s a strong memory and I want a record of it.

I was in the same place I was this morning, exiting the freeway. It had snowed heavily the night before, and it was very cold.

As I was exiting I saw in front of me a SUV, upside down, tires spinning, in the snow covered dirt of the off ramp. It must have happened no more than a minuet before. I pulled over, joining two other cars that’d got there just before me.

As I hurried up to the vehicle, I could see a person kneeling on the ceiling of the car, obviously panicked though I couldn’t hear her. Oddly, though it seems improbably in a rollover now, as I remember, the windows were cracked but intact. Anyway, one of my fellow passersby was trying to open her door and she was frantically trying to do the same. But there were two other men trying to open up the rear driver’s side door.

There was no need for me on the driver’s side and so I went to the passenger’s side. As I looked in it was clear why there were two men working on the rear door. In the back there were two children, little girls, probably about 3 and 5.

But the oddest thing was how those little girls reacted to such a situation; they were completely still, emotionless. They were strapped there in their car seats, upside-down with their hair dangling to the roof, barely moving, no tears, no screaming. I’ll never forget the image. They didn’t have half the panic of their mother. I couldn’t read any panic at all on them really; it was as though their emotions were on pause and they simply watched us like they were watching fish in an aquarium.

I immediately went between wild tugging on the door and looking in to assure the girls. My adrenaline was going; my heart thumping. Though older than mine at the time, they brought to mind my kids. I was in total fix-it mode. But each time I’d pause from working on the door to look in to assure them, I’d see the same serenity. It was apparent they didn’t care for my assurance. After a minute or so it was clear my door was going nowhere without the Jaws of Life. It was bent and dug too deep into the ground.

Fortunately the back door on the other side was movable, and the men on the other side forced it open, unlatched the girls, and helped them out. The mother followed. Feeling completely unnecessary :-), I walked back to my car and that was the end of one of the oddest things I’ve seen.

I’d still like to know why that happened, how it happened, not the accident, but the children’s response. It was striking, counterintuitive; I hope my kids would be as calm at such a time but have a hard time imagining it.

1 comment:

santorio said...

During an amniocentesis (aspiration of amniotic fluid from the amniotic sac under ultrasound guidance), the parents often express concern about the fetus moving and in so doing getting stuck by the needle.
but once the needle enters the sac, the fetus becomes very still.

No surprise, many animals have an instinctual 'no move' response to danger, an instinct that may or may not decrease as they become older.