SPLIT SECONDS

TODAY’S WORRY

Yesterday, we left Barstow, California around 7 AM. It might have been a little later because we filled an extra cup of coffee for the road. We had to make a couple of four-way stops before we got on the highway. Since Route 58 isn’t all freeway, we had to slow down for the light at Lenwood Road but after that averaged between 65 and 70 miles an hour all the way to Kramer’s Junction which is about 33 miles from Barstow. As I slowed down because I wasn’t sure whether the light would stay green, a large truck pulled out causing me to slow further, then someone crossed the street , and one of those double semis took the opportunity to pull in ahead of me. We went quite slowly since it took such a big truck a while to pick up speed. About two miles up the road traffic came to a halt. There had been a head-on collision between a materials tanker truck and a Saturn. The accident, which was a fatality, happened at 7:35 AM. The distance from our starting point was about 35 miles. All the little things that we did, saying an extra word to the hotel receptionist, filling an extra cup of coffee, slowing down for trucks and pedestrians, kept us about 5 minutes behind the time of the accident.

In the classic example of Chaos Theory, “the flapping of a single butterfly’s wing today produces a tiny change in the state of the atmosphere. Over a period of time, what the atmosphere actually does diverges from what it would have done. So, in a month’s time, a tornado that would have devastated the Indonesian coast doesn’t happen. Or maybe one that wasn’t going to happen, does. (Ian Stewart, Does God Play Dice? The Mathematics of Chaos, pg. 141)”

So all the little things we did seem to have kept us out of harm’s way but perhaps if we hadn’t done them, the results of that morning might have been completely different for everyone involved.

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