An office I once worked in had a monthly newsletter, to which I normally tried to contribute. The August 1989 edition, however, had no article from this author. "Writer's block" is as much caused by having too much on the mind as by having nothing at all to write about. I would like to describe one of the causes of my "Ides of August" syndrome, even though it only remotely has anything to do with Information Systems.
On the morning of August 14, I learned that my father had been in a serious automobile accident the day before. Only those who have heard such news about their relations can appreciate the physical and mental effects that result. Perhaps most terrorizing of all is hearing the initial diagnosis without officially knowing what, if any, improvement has occurred. Also draining are the personal waiting and reflections that inevitably ensue at, to, and from the hospital.
Fortunately, the damage turned out to be not as severe. Although the battle between chest and steering wheel was more or less a draw, the windshield lost to the (genetic, infamous) Schmid hard head. Recovery was swift, as much due to sheer determination to get out as anything else.
The tragedy is that half of the injuries were unnecessary. Had my father been wearing his seat belt, only the initial collision, from behind, would have caused him any pain: a buckled seat belt would have stopped his momentum towards windshield and steering wheel when the secondary collision, with the car ahead, occurred.
There is some irony to the accident. With all the air and highway travelling my father has done (and will continue to do), he is a strong advocate of seat belts during such trips. What a twist of fate to have needed a seat belt the most while sitting at a red light!
Each of us is confident of our own abilities and care. We may feel that we do not require disaster prevention devices like seat belts (or their I.S. equivalents) because "I'm a safe driver". However, disaster prevention devices like seat belts (or their I.S. equivalents) are not meant to even hint at doubt in ourselves. They are meant to protect us during that one moment, so that we outlive that one moment, when someone else's doubt, inattention, or cruelty would otherwise cause us harm.
There are various reasons for me to issue this plea, not the least of which is your best interests (and my need to reduce writer's block): Please use your seat belts; please take care.
Vernon R.J. Schmid
Your comments, suggestions, questions, or concerns would be very much appreciated. Please direct them to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Web Page Created: 1997-09-01. Last Updated: 2005-01-28.
The above was originally written about Horst A. Schmid (with consideration for Elaine Winkelaar and Karen Wycott (now Karen Shellow)). The web page was created due to what had happened to Princess Diana.