Life & Death, Redux
No One Here Gets Out Alive
[Please read "Dan Wheldon & The Mourning Show" for context before reading this piece. It's located to the right under "related hubs." Also, there is an admitted "the-way-I-wish-it-was" element to what follows. That can be silly, I know, but there is a fine line between being silly and being idealistic. The general mood (economically, politically, emotionally) leans toward cynicism right now. Promoting an idea that may get smacked down as naive or absurd, therefore, is fine with me. I'd rather err that way at the moment than just shrug and say, "It is what it is." *****************
About five weeks before Dan Wheldon died, a proverbial "Good Samaritan" pulled his car over in the black, pre-dawn mist along I-465 to aid a distressed motorist, whose car was stalled on the shoulder.
The Samaritan - our local paper never supplied his name citing the lack of "confirmation of identity" -was struck by a dozing truck driver, crushed and killed instantly by the force of a fully loaded 18-wheeler traveling at interstate speeds. The "Samaritan story" garnered a couple of paragraphs for a couple of days. The trucker was investigated for recklessness, lack of sleep, and so on. I have no idea whether he was charged or cleared.
The anonymous Samaritan intrigues on several levels and I wish he'd received an iota of the "Wheldonesque" media coverage in the wake of his death. Among the Samaritan's unknowns - aside from his name and what he looked like, include the following: What were his motives for stopping to help? Was he a serial-helper? Had he been recently stranded himself? Stairway to heaven? Literal interpretation of Good Samaritan saga from New Testament? What and why - so many questions. Maybe he just hoped the stranded motorist was a hot female.
Forgetting the trust fund for the moment (and I'll bet the G.S. had kids, grandkids), the Samaritan absolutely deserved the televised Conseco Fieldhouse funeral in my book. A missed opportunity of epic proportions. A game changer. Those who knew the Samaritan intimately, or at least thought they did, could have been interviewed and shed new light, background info, moving anecdotes about our martyred helper. It's highly unlikely this was his first random act of kindness and his actions could have been used to spark some useful civic discourse about such fundamental notions as compassion, empathy, and humanity. [And again, no disresepct intended toward D.W.: the Samaritan's death came in a much larger cause than the Las Vegas 500.]
Digression: The truck driver that killed the Samaritan......My inital instinct was to dislike him, to be repulsed by him, to heave my derision at him. But I don't know his story either, so I'll reserve judgment. I'm very secular, but there's that thing about "he who is blameless casting the first stone." That's one I like. And I'd like to believe our roadside Samaritan would feel the same way.
Wheldon post-script: The unabashed weeping that was exhibited after the fatality at the Vegas Motor Speedway by the likes of Danica Patrick, Dario Franchitti, and Tony Kanaan, was starkly touching and completely beautiful. Man, I just wish we didn't have to die before people express how they really feel about us.
DW and Samaritan: RIP