Friday Night

Flickr: Mamabaig

Last night I helped a girl walk away from a car crash that should have "sent her to heaven", as the policeman said. It was a Friday night and she had been drinking. She sped around a corner, over corrected on a turn and sent her car, at unknown speed, rolling into an open drain 1 metre deep.

She was lucky for so many reasons.
She was lucky there was no one else driving in the opposite direction.
Lucky she was the only one in the car.
Lucky that she had friends 5 minutes away who hadn't been drinking
Lucky that the police took an hour to come, by which stage she had left for the hospital.
Lucky that no one breathalysed her.
Lucky that the doctor didn't ask her how much she'd been drinking.
Lucky she was in a new car with dual air bags.
Lucky that the only reminder of last night will be a scar just above her eye. A scar caused by airbags that stopped her from cracking her head on the windscreen.
She is lucky to have her life.

Lots of expats drink drive in Botswana and last night I couldn't help thinking, what is it about living away from 'home' that makes people think it is okay to drink and drive? Most expats come from countries where there is such stigma attached to drink driving that people will take away your keys and threaten to call the police if you even consider getting in a car after drinking. And yet, here, away from home there is an attitude of immortality; being Cowboys above and beyond both the laws of nature and country laws.
I was so cross with this girl. I am glad that she is okay. I am glad that my medical training allowed me to briefly compartmentalise my emotions and get on with what was required - treating her shock, assessing her injuries (none), and getting her to hospital for stitches. But for the first time I really realised that if you drink and drive you are not only endangering those on the road around you, but you jeopardise relationships with friends and family. The girl, K, walked away with her life, but she damaged friendships last night. Many, I think, won't recover.
And friends aren't that easy to come by in Gabs.

1 comment:

katie@weheartbooks.com said...

Great post, Clare, beautifully written. Thanks for letting us know about a less expected aspect of life in Africa. It is strange how people behave when they are away from home en masse. Like the 'work conference phenomenon' - I'm sure someone has studied it...