Last night my brain ran like a super-computer. I performed in an improvised comedy show where I memorised complicated names for use later in the show, and carefully shelved and un-shelved ideas from my cognitive cupboards throughout the evening. I jumped through mental hoops like a well trained dachshund. At the end of the evening I was lavishly complimented on how very clever my brain was…
And then it let me down.
I sat in the right turning lane with my friend Kevin when we both got the sensation of a mistake being made to our left. A large sedan rushed by us at speed and flew into the intersection. We looked across to see a small dark car coming from the left. They plowed into each other without even the time to break. I mean brake. They had plenty of time to break, and indeed that's exactly what they did.
The force of the accident sent the cars spinning. It was a mess. I saw the lights were green and drove through and past the accident then pulled up to the curb. Kevin was already dialling emergency services and I grabbed my first-aid kit and ran to assist.
(Just to reassure readers, everyone involved is okay. One remains in hospital for observation.)
I talked to the victims and asked about injuries. I insisted that they stay still. They might have been suffering from shock. I cursed myself for not renewing my 12 year old first aid course, but enough came back to be of assistance. It was then that I noticed another person helping out with rubber gloves on.
The single most reassuring thing you can ever hear at an accident scene are the words..."Well, I'm a nurse".
I immediately went on crowd control detail. Moving people away from the other vehicle that was doing an excellent impression of a barbecue. It didn't take long to consume the whole car. Balloons of smoke billowed into the air. Everyone filmed it on their iphones. (It was pretty awesome.)
Ultimately the rescue services arrived and did the job they're not paid enough to do and I went to have a chat to the cops as an eyewitness to the event.
"DON'T WORRY! I SAW EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED!!"
"So what happened?"
"The big car went by on my left."
"So the big car on your left, did it run a red light?"
"I don't have a clear memory"
"But then the smaller car came from…"
"The left. Over there. I have a very vivid memory of the small car coming from that side. I can picture the colour and shape of it."
But that wasn't what happened. Another officer pointed out that the damage on the cars suggested that it was the small dark car that hurried past me and slammed into the silver sedan. My amazing brain can't even tell the difference between silver and dark.
Oh… and the small dark car? It was bright red before it caught fire. It wasn't a dark car when the accident happened.
So despite actively watching the accident occur I can't remember ANY USEFUL DETAILS AT ALL!!
This is what happens in times of stress. My poor monkey brain was so busy trying to climb a tree that basic functions like 'recall' completely shut down.
I apologised to the officer for being just a monkey and wished her a very boring night.
She smiled and said "Thank you for stopping".
Although I can't be sure that I didn't make that up.