We are a society that loves “train wrecks.”
Say you don’t slow down just a little to see the carnage on the side of the road when you see the lights of an ambulance up ahead and I won’t believe it.
Truth is we all have a little rubber in our necks, some more others, but we all do.
No matter how it makes us feel in the end, we love to watch.
We all have our reasoning as to why. Some look on in sadness and despair. Some watch in horror, praying for a miracle. Some are pumped by the adrenaline that flows through their bodies while awaiting the outcome.
Regardless of the reason, we are a bunch of unapologetic "Looky Loos."
Comedian George Carlin once said during a stand-up performance,
“If my car should happen to be in such a position where I can't quite see what's going on, can't get a good enough look... I'm not the least bit shy about asking the police to bring the bodies over a little closer to the car!
"Pardon me, officer. Will you fellows mind dragging that twisted-looking chap over here a little closer to the car, please?’ ‘My wife has never seen anyone shaped quite like that. Look at that, Sugarlips, that's his rib cage, sticking out of the glove compartment! Thank you, officer, that will be all now. You can throw him back on the pile, we'll be moving along.”
Being a comedian, it was Carlin’s job to push the envelope regarding situations such as this, but how many people listening to him chuckled to themselves, “Sounds like something I would do!”
Not only do we love to watch, we love to talk about it!
Automatically, we describe in detail exactly what we saw and start form our own opinions as to who was at fault. We talk about it with just about anyone who will listen.
We analyze the situation over and over again, hoping to make some sense of it all. We try to justify the reasons behind why we were watching in the first place and secretly wonder if the excitement we felt is concern for future deviant behaviors.
For example, a few weeks ago I was witness to one of the most horrific sights I have ever seen during my career in the Emergency Room.
It wasn’t my patient, but the hype surrounding the event was sickeningly more than I could bear. I had to see it for myself, I needed to be a part of that discussion.
I stood in the trauma bay and looked at the lifeless body covered in a blood stained sheet and thought to myself, “Don’t do it, you’re close enough.” But I needed them to “bring the bodies closer to the car.”
I lifted up the sheet and I looked.
In hindsight it was something that I could have gone a lifetime without ever seeing something so brutal, but oddly it needed to be done.
In the case of the Edwards/Keselowski wreck, it too oddly needed to be done.
While I do not agree with NASCAR’s punishment, the accident opened up a much needed discussion. One that needs to be detailed and repeated to anyone who will listen.
This year NASCAR’s motto was, “Have at it boys.” This past weekend in Atlanta proved that without proper guidelines, boys will indeed be boys.
We witnessed adolescent behavior from seemingly grown adults. Stock cars aren’t glorified go-karts driven by overgrown juveniles. They are hard driving horsepower surrounded by muscle and metal that should be treated with respect.
It takes a skilled driver to pilot the machine safely around a speed hungry oval, the very last thing we need is intentional horse play at 190 MPH.
Much like the image that I witnessed in a hospital setting, the crushed wreckage of the No. 12 car will stay with me as a reminder of what is right and wrong.
Hopefully the same holds true for our drivers, officials, crew members and NASCAR as a whole.
May this latest incident serve as a reminder to not only expect the unexpected on the track but to accept the unexpected, learn from it and keep the feuding off the track.
As a driver, it is OK to bring a boyish edge to the track, just remember when it is time to step up and be a man.
Any NASCAR fan knows that accidents are a product of the environment. They are always going to happen, but can we please just keep them as they are intended...accidents.