I’ve never been much of a trauma tourist and I cannot abide those people who are. I don’t have to work traffic often, and only rarely have I seen bad things, but that’s enough. In Stockton Georgia I handed an EMT a sock that still had a foot in it. Near Lakeland Georgia I handled traffic control while the deputies were still trying to pry a dying woman out of a car. I told a nineteen year old out on SR 133 to shoot, and kill, anyone who blocked the road before the ambulance got there. Too many people were ignoring the fact that the road has to be clear for an ambulance to get through, and I react poorly to stupidity. I’m not certain if the young man would have shot anyone, but he sure as hell looked like he was going to do just that. I blocked off the other end of the road with my truck and screamed at people who tried to get past me. The ambulance got there, loaded the injured, and we reopened the road. I got scolded for exceeding my authority by about a billion percent, but the people in the ambulance never complained, and law enforcement didn’t either. Law enforcement will let you know when they think you’re going too far. At least that’s what I’ve heard. I’ve never had a cop to tell me to stop trying to help, so I must be doing something right.
My job is to build bridges, and roads, so that’s how I get involved in all this. Traffic Control is something we bridge and road people do well, so we wade in when it’s needed. This is my big problem with the trauma tourists; they screw up the Traffic Control. By rubber necking and wandering around a wreck, they prevent emergency people from getting in and out, and they slow traffic down.
A few years back, an old man shot two kids for walking across his yard. They had stomped on his grass earlier in the day, so when they came back he was waiting for them with a shotgun. He killed both of them, and then was shocked to discover he was going to be arrested for premeditated murder. A friend of mine lived in the neighborhood where this happened and for days after the event, lines of cars drive through the neighborhood day and night. People wanted to get out and look at the blood in the gutter. People wanted to take photos of the spot.
I got caught up in a wreck that happened on someone else’s project. Because I always carry a camera with me, I get called upon to take photos that might help in figuring out what happened and why. A small pick-up truck ran a red light and a log truck, fully loaded and moving fast, hit it. The driver of the little pick-up truck was still alive, but trapped in the truck, and they were cutting him out. He was going to live, but he wasn’t going to be very happy for a long time. The driver of the log truck was sitting in the steps of his rig, crying like a baby. The Red Grinch, a woman truck driver I knew from another place and time, was trying to comfort him. Someone slowed down, then stopped to look at the truck driver. I slammed my fist into his window. “Move your goddam car!” I yelled. The man was shocked, embarrassed, and moved on quickly.
Months later, I saw the Red Grinch again, and she told me thank you. The log truck driver was her son. At some level, she still blames me for her losing her job on that other project, but now she understands that I’m at the very least, more human than the trauma tourists.