by Edward Foster
Thursday 07th April dawned like any other autumn morning in Brackenfell. We made coffee, got dressed and headed for Stellenbosch with Lynnette driving the 1,4 Polo. The plan for the day was that I would drop Lynnette at work, come back to do some work and then return later in the day to pick her up and attend a much looked forward to talk by Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell. Afterwards we would meet up with Auke for supper to discuss details of star parties we are planning for later in the year. As we turned into Old Paarl Road, I commented on the spectacular South-Easter cloud extending all the way from False Bay to the mountains north of Paarl. Once out on the Bottelary Road we felt the full force of the wind which seemed to increase as we progressed toward the intersection with the R304. When we passed the Bottelary Winery the wind went from strong to gale force within a very short distance.
Then, just past the Devon Valley Golf Estate’s turnoff, the fickle finger of Fate and the dirty digit of Destiny both decided to intervene in the orderly progression of events. I watched in dismay and with a distinct “Oh shit! What now?” feeling, as the wind lifted the canopy of an approaching LDV and aimed it directly at us. As I watched the frame by frame, slow motion, tumbling approach of the canopy cum projectile, mental instructions and responses flashed across my mind’s screen as if I was driving.
Then it hit the car on the right side, (as opposed to left side, not wrong side) shattering the driver’s side window and sending glass and fibre glass fragments ricocheting all over the interior of the car. Lynnette brought us to a stop, with both eyes almost shut to keep out the stuff whirling around in the car. The driver’s door was unable to open but I the passenger side was fine. I got out and there was the offending LDV parked about a 100 m back on the opposite side of the road and, on our side the LDV of a concerned motorist, and another car, also a victim of the flying canopy. Two men were standing next to the other car but, as I approached one of them turned, ran across the road, got into the canopyless LDV and drove off. The second man, Mr Concerned Motorist, hopped into his vehicle, made an impressively fast u-turn and set of in hot pursuit and then cavalry arrived in the person of a traffic officer who summed up the situation in a flash, made a more sedate u-turn, and raced off to join the pursuit of the villain.
At this point Lynnette was still in the car, blood streaming down the right side of her face where dozens of tiny glass splinters had embedded themselves, fortunately none in her eyes. The right front wheel of the Polo was almost touching the bent bodywork and I was wondering if the car could be driven and how the hell I was going to get Lynnette to medical help, but then all sorts of things started to happen. The traffic officer returned, the tow-in service arrived (two in fact), the concerned motorist returned, the police arrived, an impressive red emergency rescue vehicle from the Fire Service pulled up and, last but not least, an ambulance arrived, regrettably not with flashing lights and blaring sirens! In the meantime the villain in the story had been traced and now statements were taken with the avaricious four wheeled vultures hovering in the background murmuring gentle, persuasive phrases like “we’re with the AA” what a pity I actually need a drink, or “we’ve been doing this for 20 years” good, stick to it and you might get good at it or “we’re specialists” most con artists are etc.
Finally a very unwilling Lynnette was carted off to hospital in the ambulance to have the glass fragments removed from her face and scalp, the Polo was piggy-backed ignominiously to a panel shop in Stellenbosch (at almost R250/km!) and I was taken home, where I showered to get rid of the glass stuck in my hair, eyebrows and, surprisingly, in my ears! I then set of to Stellenbosch Medi-Clinic to pick up Lynnette who had been de-glassed by Dr Potgieter after a singularly unfriendly reception and initial turning away by the sister on duty in the emergency unit. We had something to eat at the Diner’s Den before heading home, where I gave Lynnette two Voltarin tablets to relax her muscles and eventually got her to go to bed and lie down.
If you’ve read this far you are, and quite rightly so, wondering what on earth all this has to do with parallel universes. Parallel universes are, broadly speaking, postulated by quantum physics and popular science fiction, to be simultaneous, but unconnected and alternative versions of what we experience as our current, and for us very real, reality. Please bear with me, because after this incident I had quite a serious attack of the philosophical musings which, so I am lead to believe, is not an uncommon occurrence in cases like this. I basically considered all the possible alternatives to yesterday’s incident and wondered what had occurred in these other hypothetical universes.
In one universe we arrived earlier and the canopy missed us, in another later and suffered far less damage, in a third we missed the whole incident by travelling another route, while in a fourth we were the “concerned motorist” or in a fifth perhaps one of the vehicles that drove past when all the law enforcement and rescue services were parked on either side of the road.
In some other universe Lynnette braked hard and, over and above being hit by the canopy, we were also rammed by the car behind us.
Somewhere there is a universe where Lynnette swerved and overturned the car and there will be a set of universes in which each one of the possible consequences of the overturning also features.
There is a universe in which a piece of the disintegrating canopy causes seriously injures to Lynnette’s neck or head. In yet another she is disabled for life by the injury and in one very dark universe the injuries she suffers are fatal.
There is a universe in which I was driving and not Lynnette and then there are universes containing all the possible combinations of me as driver and the scenarios I’ve already mentioned.
A collection of universes also exists in which Lynnette was on her own and in which all of the known possibilities combine with this.
For the persons in all these various universes their experiences are their realities and they must deal with that. They, like me, can only speculate about the possibility of other realities in which the events combine in different ways. However, here in our universe what happened to Lynnette and I, how it happened and what the outcomes were are real and all else is speculation.
As I mulled over all this during the course of yesterday my thoughts kept coming back to a hypothetical me in some other reality, sitting next to the hospital bed of a hypothetical, badly injured Lynnette and I did not like the thought one bit. However, I really cringed when I thought of a hypothetical me arranging a funeral for a hypothetical Lynnette. I do not know if these other hypothetical Edwards exist but, if they do, I wish very much that I could tell them that I know exactly how they feel right now in their realities and that they have all my sympathy. At the same time, I am very glad, in fact ecstatically happy, that, of all the potential universes in the multiverse, Lynnette and I are in this particular one where, although she is stiff and sore and has numerous small cuts in her face, she is alive and well.
nothing more to see. please move along.