I met my old driving instructor in the street the other day. He stopped for a chat. He congratulated me when I told him my licence is still clean, and I’ve never had so much as a parking ticket.
‘But wasn’t it you who made front page news with that bad smash back in February?’ he said.
‘Oh, that was a complete accident. My one and only disaster in ten years of driving! That’s pretty good going, I’d say. At least it was nobody’s fault, and the only person who got injured was me. I picked up a few cuts and bruises, that’s all.’
He looked thoughtful. ‘What happened?’
I gave him a rueful grin. ‘I got a craving for chocolate, and on the way back from popping out to pick some up from the shop, got caught in that freak blizzard.’
‘The one they’d been putting out warnings for?’
‘That’s right, but I assumed they were scaremongering. The forecasters never get it right.’
‘They did that day.’
‘And how! Their weather fouled up the traffic which made me late, so the snow was inches deep by the time I worked my way round all the abandoned cars.’
‘You kept on driving?’
‘Yes–I broke my ankle a few years ago, and no way was I going to risk it happening again by walking any distance when it was so slippery.’
‘So you had winter grip tyres on your car?’
‘Not then, no. I never got round to it, and they say using them wastes petrol.’
‘Better that, than losing control like you did, and ending up with your car a write-off. Not really an accident after all, was it?’ he said with the infuriating twinkle he used when hitting the dual controls during one of my many, many driving lessons. ‘You went out for a snack when a blizzard was forecast, in a car that wasn’t winter-ready, then decided against parking up and continuing on foot because you didn’t want to walk in the snow? That’s what I call an accident waiting to happen,’ he said, then fixed me with a beady look. ‘Do you still think it was nobody’s fault?’
What could I say? He made me think again about my attitude to what happened, and my part in my own downfall. After our chat I made sure my car was winter ready by the first week in November, but the moral of this story runs much deeper than that.
If you foul up, own up. Don’t hide from the truth by blaming bad luck, or accidents.