An Auckland Commuter Tragedy

United in despair, they stand together to mark the moment as the traffic light turns from green to red.

For many who did not get out the other end of the intersection in time, it is a moment of terror that will stay with them for many minutes. They bear witness to the honking of horns, and the profound emotions that overcome those for whom the gridlock has delayed important meetings. It is a powerful and poignant moment.

But amidst the horror there is both hope and compassion. In her time of need, a woman who needs to change lanes is allowed into the traffic. This incident may be only a brief episode in her life, yet it demonstrates that even during the darkest times we are a nation that looks after others, and that in times of difficulty we open our hearts to strangers.

As they look ahead to the task now at hand, it may appear daunting, for it seems that the traffic lights are now short-phasing. But the spirit of these people is strong, and will endure through the trials they now face. With dignity, compassion and grace they slowly move forward.

There is barely a person in this community who has not been personally affected by the light change. For some it may be the trauma of a missed meeting, while for others the damage is much more personal. A young mother is late to her child’s daycare and a little girl waits, clutching a teddy bear, wondering where Mummy is. Somewhere else in the suburbs a woman wonders where her beloved husband of 20 plus years has gone, and why he has not come home. His dinner sits on the table before an empty chair, slowly going cold, a painful reminder of his absence. The emotional toll on these people is impossible to quantify.

It may be many minutes before the people of this intersection can rebuild their lives and start driving at speeds of greater than 5km/hr. Those will be long minutes, and for many they will be lonely ones. Yet they are not alone, because we are all in this together.