Had some proper street theatre on the school run this morning. Bus and sports Bentley in deadlock. The E1 with clearly no where to reverse to, and a good two foot between the Bentley passenger door and the curb. But the Bentley kept lurching forward and then reversing. People looked on puzzled.
The queues started to grow in both directions. Some boys from the local school started to talk about bare space. A West Indian lady was speaking loudly to the Bentley about how much space he had, but wasn’t having the impact she intended to have.
And then I got to do what every driver loves to be able to do: turn my engine off, and head down the street to see what I could contribute. The Bentley driver: white, slightly built male, late 40s, smart casual, jeans and shirt, bit of a tan, and with a London accent. He was in melt down.
He had his head on the wheel, the lady had certainly not relaxed him, and he was starting to swear: “He’s going to f*** my wheels” He kept repeating. He was terrified of his wheels scraping the curb and it was all the bus drivers fault, already. In that Bentley driving position he probably couldn’t really see how much room he had. Bad design. He was furious with the bus driver sitting up above him, waiting patiently, and he started to say, “I can’t do this, I can’t do this.”
I tried guiding him through, but half way he chickened out and reversed back again. he was really starting to break down mentally. Other drivers got out and started to complain, and the pressure was building.
I offered to drive through for him. There was clearly more going on in his life to trouble him than this wheels and this bus.
But a humbly dressed black guy on a crutch was already round on the driver’s door, and also offering do drive it through. The owner got out, saying, ‘I can’t cope with this today.’ The other man, calm as anything, got in, put his crutch on the passenger seat, and started looking for the hand break. Then the rest of us trying to help him figure out where the ‘button’ was for the hand break. We called the owner back who had walked down the road to show us the hand break button, and off the car went, smoothly, between the curb and the bus, me waving it forward.
It takes a special kind of circumstance for someone to vacate their £100k car in London, and let a stranger on a crutch take the wheel.
Some of the local kids were whispering to each other: “He’s got money.” And something in their tone seemed to say, how could someone with so much money get so stressed? isn’t money something that relieves you of suffering? and maybe for some of them, it was a moment that taught them that a car like that is not necessarily something to aspire for.
So you can’t see the man in the picture, but say a prayer for the driver of the car. Why not call him Keith? And pray that he can get over his fears, and what ever else he is coping with, beyond his shiny hubs. Pray that someone can step into his life, like that injured man stepped into his car, and help him find some direction and perspective. Who knows you may see a Bentley with the number plate: KW…BEE today. Say something nice if you do.