Dave Nearly Receives a Darwin Award (Yikes)
This event happened Friday afternoon, but I totally repressed the memory-- I told no other human about it, and it would have sunk deep into my subconscious and never surfaced again if it wasn't for a discussion in philosophy class yesterday about the flaws in our perception-- we were talking about Plato's Allegory of the Cave and how our senses often deceive us; how we all too often mistake shadows for reality . . . and while students were providing examples, I suddenly remembered my ride home from work on Friday . . . I was overheated and extremely tired and engrossed in an episode of Planet Money; driving on Ryders Lane, across from the Acme; and I saw a flashing red light on a sign, and the sign said DO NOT STOP ON TRACKS and I thought to myself: that makes sense . . . I will not stop on the tracks . . . you certainly shouldn't stop on the train tracks . . . and then I drove across the tracks, and when I crossed them I heard a loud loud horn, and this sound snapped me out of my cataleptic stupor; I looked to my right and I saw a TRAIN . . . and in a cognitive flash I understood it all: the blue and white freight train engine, the cars stopped on the other side of the road, the flashing red lights . . . and I realized that those flashing red lights weren't simply emphasizing the fact that you shouldn't stop on the train tracks, they were indicating that there was an actual train coming, and the drivers on the other side of the road had figured this out and had stopped, but I plowed right across . . . luckily, I think the engine had slowed to a crawl to assess the situation, because Ryders Lane rarely sees train traffic (and thus there was no traffic control drop arm at this crossing) or I might have been t-boned by the engine, written off as a typical idiot, and posthumously presented a Darwin Award . . . and never gotten to plead my case, which was that in my decisive moment, I thought I was obeying the signage-- the red lights reminded me not to stop on the tracks-- and while I realize this was a rather grave, boneheaded error, it is also a lesson in how heat and exhaustion and a compelling podcast can lead to a total lack of peripheral awareness.