>Today I decided I wanted to go for a float and a massage, to work out some of the week and especially to work out the knots of the night before. I managed to book an appointment and left work a wee bit early to head over to Floatworks. The float was amazing – I actually slept in the tank of water and really relaxed. The massage was painful, but good painful. I feel like he really worked out some of the stress and tension that I was carrying around. Which I needed.
So I’m walking blissfully out of Floatworks towards London Bridge station, enjoying how relaxed I’m feeling and thinking about looking for my passport so I can get some cash out tomorrow (my bank card went AWOL and needs replacing). Not much else, really. And then I heard a noise that was a little out of the ordinary, but not hugely. Like someone had hit the brakes, hard.
That is what that noise was. Someone had hit the brakes. Hard.
I’ve seen people get hit by cars before. This didn’t sound like that; when I turned to look – it didn’t look like that.
There was a cab – a licenced blackcab. Stopped. And, to be honest, what looked like a large garbage bag now resting mostly under the front bumper. The cab was not moving. The bag wasn’t moving. People had turned to look, probably because of the sound of the brakes, but no one was moving towards the cab. It was like everything was perfectly frozen.
And then the dark shape under the front bumper of the cab moved.
As I said – it didn’t sound or look like a person had been hit initially when I turned to look. It sounded more like a near-miss. But obviously someone had. The cab was still not moving. No one (not the driver, not the passengers) was getting out of the vehicle. But the people on the pavement (and from the bus that was now stopped behind the cab) were finally starting to move.
I’m going to confess something at this point that I’m not entirely proud of. At that moment, even though at this point I knew that someone was down on the ground, possibly very hurt, and that I had witnessed (at least in part) what had happened; part of me just wanted to keep walking. To keep walking so that I could get home. To walk away and pretend I had saw nothing so that the rest of my evening would not be ruined. So I could get home early. So I could stay relaxed, go home and get the sleep I so desperately need right now. And I’m not proud of that. I even rationalised walking away in such a way that it wasn’t until later when I could reflect that I even realised how much I had been rationalising. As I stood there, I was thinking: “There are lots of other people here, and they aren’t making emergency type movements… I’m sure it isn’t as bad as it looks.” That was the kind of thinking I was doing without even realising what I was thinking. Self-preservation at it’s finest hour: “Get me out of here, and here are a few good reasons why I can go.” Thanks, brain.
But then I saw the most horrific thing. And stayed.
The cab driver (and his passengers) still hadn’t left the cab. But then, and I still can’t believe I saw this, that son of a bitch reversed the cab, drove around the body, and continued to the station doors.
He reversed, drove around the body, and kept going.
That’s when I decided to involve myself. Because that is not right. That’s just not right. Someone was hurt – whether badly or not was yet to be decided. But that driver had done wrong, and wasn’t owning up to it. He wasn’t taking responsibility. He wasn’t going to do anything about it. It was making my insides churn. It still is. What a horrible, horrible man.
I followed the cab, and took a couple of pictures of the licence plates. I wasn’t the only one. This may be the only time I’m honestly grateful for smartphones, for cameraphones. It allows people to record what is happening to ensure human beings don’t get away with being dreadful to other human beings.
Another girl was doing the same as I was. She also tried to get pictures of the driver, which wasn’t making him happy at all. And I stood with her when she was explaining why she was doing it – mainly that we had seen him drag a body under his car, then reverse and drive around it – and that piece of shit denied that anything had happened.
He had reversed, drove around the body, and was now denying that anything had happened.
Here’s the rub: the poor soul that was now lying bleeding and broken in the street had been clearly living hard and recently drinking heavily. People who had actually seen what had happened said that the guy had either passed out in the road, tripped and fell, or lay down in front of that car.
So the driver probably saw him very, very late – explaining the hard braking. And it is entirely possible that the man lay down in front of the car, wanting to be hit. Wanting a warm place to sleep – be it eternally or just for the night in the A&E. It is possible. And I think had the cabbie reacted differently, the sympathies of the witnesses would not have been just with the victim, but for the driver as well. He did brake. He tried to stop and it is possible that he just couldn’t in time. Which would be horrifying – imagine if that was you driving and couldn’t stop in time. You’d have nightmares forever about that.
But you can’t sympathise with someone who is cold enough to reverse and drive around the person they just hit. There is no excuse for that. I’m still shaking my head about it. I cannot believe that driver. Or his fucking passengers. Had I been in that cab, I would have been out of the car to see what had happened in a heartbeat. Those people got their luggage out and caught their fucking train. Everyone in that cab just puts me into a blind rage about mankind.
But I do also have hope. I have hope in the half dozen people who acted. Who took pictures. Who confronted the cab driver. Who comforted the man in the street. Who called emergency services and grabbed the police. Who willingly stuck around and gave their names and their statements to the police.
And I have hope again in myself. Because although I hesitated initially, I was one of those people in the end.