Published: Thursday November 26, 2015.

Being thankful on Thanksgiving

My alarm sounded at 630am, and I snoozed it on the over-inflated grounds that I hadn’t had enough sleep after a full evening and a late night. About 15 minutes later I broke my own self-imposed ban on having my phone in bed after collecting it from my office desk. I read about the new Raspberry Pi Zero, and was taken aback by what $5 can buy. I also saw that it was a cover mount on the December 2015 issue of MagPi, the official Raspberry Pi magazine.

A computer, on a magazine front cover. Astonishing. I’d already decided on a trip to Bude on a flimsy pretext of buying baking ingredients for a weekend party, and this new Pi was the cherry on top. I figured I could swing by WHSmith’s in Bude, stop by Lidl for baking bits, and be home by 1030-ish. Leaving just after 9am, I sent a message to my friend (who has yet to go to Lidl Bude, much to her chagrin) asking if she wanted groceries while I was out. I didn’t hear back, and frankly I wasn’t expecting to.

I was cheeky in Bude and parked in the car park opposite WHSmith without paying. The 30 seconds I was in the store didn’t really justify spending a quid on parking for an hour. There was, perhaps inevitably, no magazine available. They didn’t carry it. I can’t recall the last time I read a magazine, less so bought one, and the funky sewer-y smell at WHSmith’s was just unpleasant.

Thankfully I didn’t get ticketed for my 2 minutes of parking (fight the power, etc) and stopped in at Lidl on the way home. Baking ingredients in the basket, I picked up some salad and a couple of snacky things. I didn’t buy the telescope, belt sander or food processor, despite the price. I picked up a £5 car first aid kit, but put it back before I checked out. One of the things on my to-do list is to have a car kit with first aid bits in, plus the usual car safety things. Maybe those boiled sweets in a tin that my nanna and grandpa insisted on, too.

On the way home, and it’s about 20 minutes from Bude to Crackington when the roads are wet, I pulled into a lay by to send a message to Jen that a) I had snacks (yay!) and b) there was no magazine (sadface). That message didn’t happen because I didn’t send it. I didn’t get as far as retrieving my phone.

As I was leaving the road to park, the truck travelling behind me had collided head-on with a car coming the other way. Shortly after an almighty bang, plus the inevitable ploom of steam from a trashed car radiator, ten or so people appeared from cars (and the truck) and ran over to the site of the accident.

The guy from the Peugeot was laying on the floor, surrounded by half a dozen people keeping him conscious. He didn’t appear to be bleeding, thankfully. Another lady, dressed in undertaker’s garb, called the emergency services. I started clearing chunks of car from the road, then joined in the group effort to direct traffic around the junction. Within ten minutes, the police and fire service were on the scene, and an ambulance arrived a few minutes later.

One of the firefighters took over from my traffic directing duties because he was more visible in his jacket. I was thanked, and went on my way. Not having a hi-viz jacket made me feel a bit useless, especially when a trained firefighter is essentially herding cars full of rubberneckers. Walking back to the car, I called Jen to explain that I was late because of the accident. I didn’t mention snacks.

It wasn’t until 15 minutes later on the drive home that my adrenaline imbalance calmed and I realised just how close a call I’d just had with a road traffic accident. I tend not to regret anything in my life. I’m glad I pulled over to park. I’m very pleased I didn’t text (or talk) and drive. I’m a bit annoyed that I couldn’t be more helpful on the scene thanks to my lack of hi-viz. Next time, and I hope there won’t be one soon, I’ll be better prepared.

Mostly I’m thankful that I’m alive and I could write this. It could just as easily have been me.