Opinion

Think about it: Pushing the wrong pedal or the limit?

Is it my imagination or does Clallam County have more than its share of people running into buildings while driving some sort of vehicle?

Just the other day someone ran into a recently opened energy supplement shop in Port Angeles, taking a lamp post into the shop with him. The post office and Safeway in Sequim have been crashed into during the last several years.

Fortunately no one has been hurt which is a minor miracle in itself considering the damage done to the buildings, especially to the restaurant in which people enjoying a meal were joined by a car.

I am going to tread lightly here just in case there is a karmic effect and I am the next person to drive my car into a shop instead of backing away from it. I am in the age group where it is a possibility.

Remember this quote from Jerry Seinfeld, “I want to know at what age people decide they can back out of their driveway without looking.”

It seems that some of these run-ins are people who mistakenly stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brakes or, more likely, thought they were in reverse when they were not. Alas, most of these people are my age and older.

We laugh — or at least I do — at the commercial where the guy drives his car with bikes loaded upright on its top into his garage destroying part of the garage and the bikes. The commercial goes on to affectionately explain how human we all are and, here’s the really funny part, how forgiving the car insurance company is. Those commercials are like the old “Laugh In” show slapstick humor in which we roar when the little man on the trike turns over or the old maid hits a man with her purse for no reason at all.

It’s just not that funny in real life. It’s tragic and more so if someone is injured or some irreplaceable part of life is lost forever. I felt for the new business owners who just put the finishing touches on their small business only to have it damaged by, in this case, a not very old someone allegedly driving while impaired.

Our higher-than-normal incident per capita of driving into buildings uninvited may draw researchers, especially in light of the national notoriety Port Angeles received when it had the ultimate run-in experience. A Port Angeles man recently reached a plea bargain over charges that he went on a bulldozer rampage last year. He was accused of reaching his limit, hopping on his bulldozer and plowing through fences, houses and buildings.

The legal statement of charge for this illegal act reads like something from the school of boys will be boys, “seven counts of first degree malicious mischief.” The charge was joined by other charges that reflect the serious nature of the offenses such as reckless endangerment and burglary, the latter dropped in the plea bargain.

The whole incident brought worldwide attention to the peninsula, enough so that the court ruled that Clallam County residents couldn’t be unbiased and moved the venue for the trial to Kitsap County residents about 50 miles away. I do not know how to make sense of that any more than I know how to make sense of the depth of rage this person felt.

I believe the rage it takes to do an act like this must be so great that the anger, adrenalin and loss of dignity has to be exploded or the self will cease to exist, at least in the mind of the person full of rage.

I feel great sadness for someone driven to act outside of his or her humanity. But I feel greater sadness for the innocent persons who stand in the path of rage. We read about it every week or more often since there have been a reported 104 incidents of mass murder in our country this year which is only five months old. Today, I write after hearing the lead news story in which another person has loaded a gun and gone on a rampage, killing six unsuspecting people standing in the path of his rage.

I don’t think it’s right to wildly destroy property in a fit of rage or for any reason but at least you can rebuild a home or a barn. You have to be pretty close to a bulldozer, probably under it, to be hurt or killed, not so with a bullet fired from a gun.

I worry about the solutions that call for everyone to arm just in case you encounter an enraged shooter. Once everyone starts shooting how do you know who the shooter is? I did not expect to live in a culture of fear or one in which we have so few healthy valves for our frustration and anger.

I worry that we have lost our sense of personal power and human connection to the extent that we require the power of things we view as bigger than ourselves, like cars, bulldozers and guns.

 

 

Bertha D. Cooper is retired from a 40-plus year career as a health care administrator focusing on the delivery system as a whole. She still does occasional consulting. She is a featured columnist at the Sequim Gazette. Reach her at columnists@sequimgazette.com.

 

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