We live, and sometimes we die, purely through chance. When we decide to do anything, we cannot possibly know what is to befall us in terms of accident, or malicious acts. The hasty work or maintenance item completed in a rush, the need to get on to the next task, or even to leave work on time, can have such tragic consequences for a complete stranger many miles from where that task was left only partially complete.
I was working some years ago, on a Central London construction site as a Mechanical & Electrical Manager, and as I lived just across the fence and a wide main road from Heathrow airport, sometimes I parked by the Underground station at Hatton Cross, and rode the train in to work, instead of driving in part way, and then using the Tube for the final stretch. I finished my day, hopped on the Tube, changing trains once, and grabbed a rare seat for the trip back west. Following the throng off the train, I paid for an evening paper, then walked, paper up but following the crowd, out of the station to stand at the traffic lights and pedestrian crossing.
The main road at which we stopped was the A30, and it was, even in those days, a very busy and fast-travelled 3-lane dual carriageway. You never took chances by crossing early, so we all waited until the lights turned ‘red’, and the green ‘pedestrian’ sign started flashing. Directly in front of me walked a lady wearing a beige raincoat, and she was being waved at by a young girl, whom I presumed was her daughter, standing on the central reservation with her father. I can still remember even to this day, so many years later, that I walked past a small Fiat which had stopped in the inside lane, and then a blue Mercedes in the central lane, with the outer lane still empty: the lady, still some five feet in front of me. Then a blur in front of my eyes, the newspaper was torn from my fingers; and with a massive rush of air but astonishingly no sound at all, a single-decker bus slammed straight across the junction, collecting the lady who was walking in front of us as it raced through the lights. I was left standing, stock-still, in the middle of the road, immobile for maybe a minute until a kind man took me by the shoulder and asked if I was okay.
I later discovered that the lady who died was indeed the wife of the man waiting with his happy daughter on the pedestrian reservation. I also discovered that the bus suffered a massive hydraulic failure of the braking system due to an over-stressed pipe connection which had worked loose. As I once wrote before, Funny how things sometimes stay in your mind long after the event!!