THERE is a bit of the stunt man in all of us. This is no harm unless by coincidence the appearance of a stunt arrives at the same time as a miscalculation.
I used to be a stunt man myself, but since the only vehicle I had was a bicycle I was never able to do as much damage as one of today’s stunt men.
Unfortunately for me, I met a stunt man one day last week. He was driving a motor car and in the car were several passengers.
As I walked blissfully along the road, on my correct side, this car suddenly shot straight ahead of me. As it came near I was under the impression that it was out of control and I was between two minds which way to turn. I decided to stay put until the last minute. Then, as the car was almost upon me, I braced myself to jump.
Just then the car changed over to a true course and missed me by a matter of inches. I stood rooted to the spot and only then did I notice that the car was driven by a man I knew well. All he was doing was having me on.
Now, I do not consider this sort of joke to be in the least funny. In fact, it is the sort of joke which has often proved most expensive and, if memory serves me correctly, it has frequently dispatched the victims to eternal chimes where one presumes the roar of the motor is never heard and the air is mercifully free from the smoke of exhaust pipes.
Last week’s incident was not the first one I experienced. Some drivers think it is great gas to drive straight for a person they know, forgetting that their own judgement is fallible and that the judgement of the target is less fallible still.
But this is only one kind of stunt man. The stunt man I fear most is he who has been prematurely placed behind the wheel of a large truck,
You may argue against this by saying that everybody is prematurely placed behind the wheel, whether it be bus, truck or car.
This type of stunt man who drives the truck reminds me in many ways of a dog who suddenly dashes out from nowhere and attacks a car.
Let us imagine a bend with a carefully-drawn white line. A truck approaches driven by the type of stunt man I have mentioned.
He chooses to ignore the white line. Maybe you would be the same, dear reader, if you had a truck as large as he had.
When a car approaches on its correct side, or a little ways over the line, it pulls in hastily as close to the hedge as is physically possible, but does our stunt man do this? No sir. He takes his time and gives you one hell of a big fright, sometime maiming and other times killing you.
I know a man who once followed a truck driver who almost killed him. He told me that when the driver stepped down from the cab of the truck he did so with great pride and arrogance, as if he expected a round of applause.
My friend was reminded of a trapeze artiste who had just descended from his perch after giving the performance of a lifetime.
There are many other types of stunt man, but the one I enjoy the most is he who parks in a hurry and at great speed. He whirls his car about, timing his entry into the parking space so finely that only the most powerful pressure on the brakes at the very last second saves other cars and humans in the vicinity.
The reason I enjoy this sort of stunt man is because sooner or later he wrecks the rear of his car and either the front, rear or side of another car.
There is never loss of life and the stunt man generally has to pay handsomely for his folly.
If only pedestrians could be taught that a large percentage of those who drive vehicles on the public highway are stunt men, or the makings of stunt men, there would be a far happier between them.
For instance, the pedestrian might become part of the game himself if there was some way of learning that a stunt was about to take place.
If through some means of communication, he could be made aware he could arrange it so that both sides would have an equal chance of surviving.
He would have time to search for a large stone which he could aim at the windscreen of the approaching car. I do not say that he could fire a stone. There is no need for this.
All he has to do is simulate the action of a stone thrower. This has an immediate effect on the stunt man. He quickly reverts to normal road behaviour and there is a new-found respect for one who used to be treated with contempt.