Friday has arrived at last. Another week has slid by. Work’s been pretty full on and I’m looking forward to the weekend. I set out from home, striding along with a sense of purpose and, if I’m to be honest, feeling important and competent. I’ve had a recent promotion and things seem to be going my way. A balmy wind buffets me as I walk along and there is no sign of the forecast morning rain. If I get to work in time, I’ll grab a flat white at the new café around the corner. It serves a good brew and then I’ll be right for the staff meeting. Friday is the best day of the week – the day to ready oneself for the weekend and Monday still seems like an eternity away.
I lengthen my stride as rain drops begin to fall. All of a sudden, up ahead, I notice flashing blue lights. If there are sirens I’m probably too far away to hear. A frisson of excitement told hold of me. But then I begin to fret that the road may be blocked. I don’t want to be late for work. It’s probably some idiot who’s run a red light. Or perhaps it’s something as mundane as a burst water main.
Closer to the intersection, I can make out an ambulance parked in the middle of the road. A divvy van is also parked diagonally on the road and a young fresh-faced policewoman is waving traffic through: though not allowing any vehicles to head north where the ambulance is parked.
When I get to the lights, I notice several stationery divvy vans, one half-way upon the footpath just behind the ambulance; another has its driver’s side door open. Has someone been shot? A violent home invasion perhaps? Or a drug bust gone wrong.
Near the ambulance, several blokes on a first floor balcony are continuing to paint or are they plastering? They’re wearing paint spattered clothes and knee pads. I wonder if they’ve seen anything. Two more police cars, their lights flashing, arrive. Still, no sirens and no sign of the police helicopter so it can’t be much. All the police are wearing reflective tops. None are holding capsicum spray nor do they have their guns drawn. Why so many police? Everything seems under control. The scene has been secured.
If I can’t get through I’ll miss the start of my meeting, and I’ll have to forget about coffee. Although it’s too early in the day for dialogue with strangers, I ask a bloke at a bus stop if he knows what’s up. He doesn’t seem to hear me. Then I notice he’s wired for sound so I maintain my vigil in silence. The young police woman with her long white sleeves continues to effortlessly redirect traffic.
As I walk unimpeded through the intersection, I have a clearer view of the scene. Behind the ambulance, white plastic sheeting has been placed on the road as if to cover something.
So I keep on walking.
I arrive at work but there’s no time for coffee. The meeting is about to start. And I’m annoyed. Later that morning, after the meeting is over, I get online to check the news. Curious I guess to see if this morning’s traffic disruption and police activity has been deemed newsworthy.
I’m rewarded – if that’s the right word – chastened is probably more apt. It’s there; just a few lines, blandly stating that a male motorcyclist has died following a collision with a truck at the intersection. Traffic is still being redirected and investigators are at the scene. The news item so brief, so clinical, and also so inadequate; and the dead man has already assumed the status of a statistic.