February 15th, 2002


Situational Awareness.

Ok, so I would like to say to all of you out there that situational awareness is very important in all parts of life, not just combat. I've been in the Air Force now for over 6 years, hell, almost 7. During that time I've seen a lot of things that could have been avoided. Don't ask me about many of them, because I'd have to use a silly cliche that I really don't like to use. Let's just say that I was the Safety NCO (the guy who has to handle all the mistakes that get people hurt) for a while.

So, why am I talking about situational awareness you ask? Let me tell you about my morning. I get up, take a shower, call my friend Doc, and then go out to do my morning errands. Pretty typical weekend morning in Monterey. (Yes, I'm a government employee in training status who uses every excuse possible to get out of work so I have a four day weekend for President's Day..) I find myself, sometime later, sitting in the bank parking lot waiting for Doc to come out. I'm casually reading my book when an elderly woman gets into her V6 BMW that is parked in the space in front of me. When she turned the car on I was quite startled, it sounded like the engine was revving at the redline. I thought to myself how odd that sounded and asked myself if maybe it was just a bad squealing fan belt or something. So, I turned my radio down some, and rolled my window down a bit to hear better. No, that sounds like it's revved to the red-line.

Now, about that time the lady decided it was time to pull out. She puts the car in reverse and the point becomes moot. Yes, you guessed it, it was red-lined and she took off like a bat out of hell. There was a woman walking behind her car who managed to get out of the way, mostly. She was hit in the hip and spun, but maintained her feet. The car then proceeded to strike the half wall that is in front of the bank side walk, and thanks to the angled parking spaces, then made a sharp turn to the right and bolted out of the parking lot and across the street. Luckily traffic was stopped for a car that wanted to turn into the bank so there was no cross traffic. She hit an SUV that was parked on the other side of the street and a Honda Civic that was parked in front of the SUV. These two vehicles were violent pushed apart like the parting of the Red Sea, for this BMW needed to get between them for some reason known only to the car. It then went through the opening it had made and impacted with the parking garage wall. Now, the BMW was doing good up until this point, it had walked away from all of it's previous encounters. The wall, however, was a different story. It stopped it dead, crushing the back half of the vehicle. Not only did it stop the car, but it bounced it 6 feet back in the direction it had come from, and it even cleared 6 inches vertical easy.

So the car was stopped, and the engine was not racing anymore. Now, the lady in the car should have noticed her engine sounded funny, and even should have noticed that her brake was making the car go faster. (The current popular theory as to the cause of the accident is that she had her foot on the gas thinking it was the brake.) Now, I realize she was an older lady, but there is a certain amount of coherency that a person must have in order to get a driver's license. Anyway, the moral of this story is to always pay attention to the things around you, and for gods' sake, if your car sounds funny when you start it up, don't just drive it. Check it out to make sure it's not broken.

I suppose we must find the bight side of things, as there always has to be one. Hmn.. Well, my car was not hit. So for once there is an accident and my car is safe from it! (Since I didn't have the journal back then, that is a reference to the fact that within the first 3 months of purchasing my new car it had been hit three times, all for minor scratch type damage, but still.)
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