It’s not often that the only thought that crosses my mind is for me to make it home safe and sound to my loved ones. Yet this unpleasant thought has crossed my mind more times than I wish while driving along the dark, twisted, lonesome highway where I work.
There’s no avoiding that particular highway as it is the only road that reaches one town to the next. At night, the road transforms from a pleasant drive with a magnificent scenery into a treacherous place.
Fog shifts in from the mountain sides making it impossible to see more than a few feet ahead. You toggle with the fog lights but it only causes the beam to reflect off the clouds and shine straight back at you. Darkness cast shadows across the whole road, no street lights are there to illuminate the way. While you play the guessing game of making out the faded traffic lines that twists and turns along with the highway, you also battle the oncoming semi-truck lights as they blind you with their fierce light. One false twist and you’ll fly off a cliff or over a bridge into the raging cold river. Mix heavy pounding rain, slippery snow, black ice, occasional rock slides, and the flashing red and white lights to the combination and it’s utterly disastrous.
There’s no room for error. You know you can’t make an error, it is out of the question. Your patient’s life, your partner’s life, your life, it’s all in your hands.
There have been many numerous motor vehicle accidents along this twisty road, many of which have been fatal. It’s sometimes impossible not to think if I could be the one next. It’s never a pleasant thought. It’s why I have complete empathy for the two paramedics who passed away last year when they rolled off a highway on a night shift. It’s why I slow down, because at the end of the day, I just want to make it home. Safe.