8. How can these things be?
Our church bulletin one Sunday explained the difference between doubt and unbelief very well. A doubter says: ”This sounds a bit far fetched. But if there is any truth in it, I’d like to find out.” Unbelievers dismiss outright a thought they don’t understand. There is not even a desire to find out more, to probe, if something is possibly true.
Sadly, I was surrounded by unbelievers in my own home. Only the mention of any unreal phenomenon, which was occurring almost daily, put everyone on the defensive. As soon as I stepped out into the community, I could sense, even see with my own eyes, that many had turned from doubting to believing. Because it all took place on a higher level, there was an ever present thought that I was really ill, beyond help, unaware.
In the midst of doubt, out of the blue, more unexplained marvels took place. I knew when God again was speaking in his dramatic ways, car crashes. As happened before, there was usually some data that my sensitive spirit brought to the fore. It happened in August 03 and culminated in a chance encounter with people directly involvement in a previous crash that had occurred hundreds of kilometres from Adelaide.
It all started with an unusual quiet period of road deaths in South Australia. If evenly spread, we would see approx. 1 fatality every two days. As if by a planned stoppage, for a total of 18 days no death was recorded in our state between 22/703 and Saturday 09/08/03. Ironically, that Saturday morning I had a first time client taking a driving lesson from an address in the North Eastern suburbs. Her pick-up address was right at the spot where 12 years earlier a policeman had died while trying to flag down a speeding motorist.
The other peculiar fact is that I had been researching online that evening into road safety and came across a police website. I couldn’t resist and sent a brief email, commenting on the prolonged, fatality-free period. (Unbeknown to me a man from Tanunda had crashed his vehicle and died hours earlier near the Barossa Valley).
On Sunday August 10th I had to rise early to take my daughter Michelle to the Adelaide airport. She had been visiting us from Sydney for a week. At approx. 6 am we travelled from Para Hills, where we live, south on Main North Road, turned right into Regency Road and left into South Road, Regency Park. Had we continued straight ahead to the next set of traffic lights, we most likely would have come across a road crash scene. Later it was reported a fatality had occurred around 6.15 am.
It happened near the intersection Days Road and Regency Roads, within meters from the spot where a 16 year old cyclist was killed on March 11th 03. This time media reports told of a pedestrian, a 35 year old man, who was hit by a car and left lying on the road. The Channel Seven breakfast program Sunrise briefly mentioned the crash on Monday 11th of August. I emailed to comment on the incident. (I don’t know how often it happens, but I took note of the unusual weather pattern and tagged it onto the email).
Hi all, Email 11/8/03
To add to the story about the hit-and-run crash in Adelaide yesterday 6.15 am. (I happened to drive by within 1/2 kilometer right at that time, taking my daughter to the airport). But that is not the only co-incident. The pedestrian (35 y.o) was hit exactly one day short of five months to the day a bicyclist died at exactly the same spot (within 50 meters or so - I visited the scene after church, which is not far).
The positive side of the SA road toll is that yesterdays victims (there were 3) were the first fatalities since 22/7. We were fatality free for 19 days!! In other words, on average 8 people normally die in that timespan, but this number of roadusers is still alive (and doesn't know how lucky they are).
Dieter Rolf Fischer
PS Did anyone notice yesterdays max. temperature in Adelaide 10.8 degrees (record cold) matched the date again. (It happened on 19.3 this year). If we start with football scores of the Crows and the Port Power (number one and two on the AFL ladder) I could point out some remarkable co-incidents. But I think those who believe what I have observed and take it seriously have enough to ponder.
The record maximum temperature of 10.8 degrees refers to the month of August, not record cold ever. I didn’t want to overdo it and email the min. temperature (5.3 degrees) and the rainfall (2 mm) or that London had its hottest day ever (37.9 degrees) at the same time. In my mind I marvelled the peculiar fact, that my daughter and airport were part of this episode. I could see parallels to the Christchurch plane crash 2 months earlier.
Later that morning after I read about Saturday’s road death, the one I didn’t know about, I sent a correction email to Sunrise:
The Advertiser Newspaper today (11/8) reports a road fatality on Sat. 9/6 (a 55 year old driver from Tanunda). This means yesterday's 3 deaths were not the first one's since 22/7. The toll free period was only 18 days.
My apologies for the earlier, incorrect information.
Dieter Rolf Fischer
It had been another really shocking weekend on our roads (Aug 9/10/03) with a total of five fatalities. To make it worse, the following Tuesday 12/08/03 a further fatality caught my attention. In broad daylight a father with his wife and child aboard turned from Goodman Crescent into Churchill Road, Kilburn. The driver was newly licenced and still on his P-plates. It appears that for an unexplained reason he failed to give way. They were hit by a semi-trailer travelling south on Churchill Road. His infant child was killed; he and his wife were injured.
The unfortunate family had migrated from the Sudan. I wondered, if my ex-client Jacob knew them. (See chapter 44 of More in number). I phoned him and he confirmed that it was their friends. The tragedy shocked all of us. I visited the scene the next day to check out how it could have happened. A red P-plate lay on the ground amongst the leftover glass and bits of debris. I picked it up to keep. I questioned a lady standing at the nearby bus stop, if she knows what had happened. She declined to comment. I took note of the bus stop number – 21.
The following Friday I phoned Radio 5 DN to comment on the crash from a driving instructor’s point of view. I spoke to popular radio personality Jeremy Cordeaux and raised two questions. One, why does the Road Accident Research Unit, which investigates all fatal road crashes, not filter its findings through to driving instructors? Secondly, why investigate only the technical aspects of crashes and not the way the driver (a newly-licenced one in this case) had obtained his driver’s licence.
Statistically, over 90 percent of crashes are caused by driver error, not by any technical or mechanical problem. Yet, millions of dollars is spent on improving roads, vehicles and traffic flow; very little on road safety education. Of course, speaking with Jeremy Cordeaux, I was hinting at our unique competency-based training method (CBT), which I had criticized on his program years before (Chapter 13 More in number…). None of my arguments had as yet born fruit.
The tragedy at Kilburn drove home the point that a simple mistake and at the wrong time and place can have serious consequences. I remembered how Jacob, and other students, had many times suggested to me to switch to the CBT method. This involves a final drive with the same instructor acting as official examiner, instead of a formal driving test with an independent body. (I never agreed with this system and did no longer participate in it).
Now I am glad I consistently refused to oblige. A driving instructor’s worst nightmare would be to teach a person to drive, issue a licence and hear about them crashing shortly afterwards and being injured or worse. How would I feel, if it had been Jacob and Rebekah losing one of their gorgeous little girls? A dairy entry for Tuesday 12/08/03 reads: Life is taking strange twists – God knows it all.
The reference to football scores in above email is another story that anyone unable to think in a higher realm, will laugh at. Here are the facts, which I invite anyone to search out. Please don’t try to make sense of them, just accept them as a huge co-incident brought on by a higher power, just to show HE is there watching.
On Sunday 13/7 on the way to church I spotted a sign 89.9 (the price of petrol in cents/litre). The middle nine was a different colour. It hit me immediately and for the first time; nine backward reads en in. From then on I added the number nine to my repertoire of favourites and told the readers of my website on the News-update of 17/07/03. It did not take long for the number to make a spectacular debut. The following weekend was the start of an interesting run of AFL football results.
Both Adelaide Teams, the Crows and Port Power, were in an 8 team finals play-off for the premiership. Three days after “discovering” the number 9 the Adelaide Crows narrowly lost by one point (90:91) to Fremantle (= le free man on cross?).
A week later, Saturday 26th July, the team with the awesome name (Power) defeated the Brisbane Lions 104:103, again a one-point margin. The Adelaide Advertiser, on the morning of the match, had a headline in their careers-supplement: THE POWER OF NUMBER ONE. It was a pun on a new Employment Initiative, Career One, which was being launched. It might as well have been a prophetic hint at the evening’s football score.
The following week both Adelaide teams won their matches by 4 points. A week later Port Power, which reached the quarter finals, won by 44 points. I am definitely not saying that God has a favourite football team. To pray that your team wins would put God in a bit of bother, if all did that. I believe God loves life, including all sports. He is even interested in the scores. Maybe this is the only lesson to draw from such trivia. Otherwise, how can these things be?
Co-incidences such as these were fun to observe. This kind of playfulness was a welcome change from the seriousness of car crashes. I was always ready to let my creativity flow. A breakfast TV program regularly ran competitions. One morning viewers were asked to email what relaxes them, how they get out of the daily grind. My contribution took the form of a poem:
How I escape the daily grind
When life’s a bore and small tasks become a chore,
I escape to my office and let my probing mind soar.
Up comes a story, a limerick or an awesome tale,
I question life, tease the wife; I cause strife without fail.
When stress causes angst and I don’t understand,
Then I trust God and place it all in His hand.
Again life is fun, I just laugh when the going gets tough.
One keeps me going, he's the source of all - love.
Dieter Rolf Fischer
I mentioned earlier that I had a chance encounter with someone involved in one of the road crashes. The incident happened on Friday 22.8.03, the first anniversary of the car crash that killed Ben Mitchell and Glenn Knott. The TV Breakfast program (the one that I sent above email to) announced that it was broadcasting their show from the Barossa Valley on that day.
I had already planned to take the 60 kilometre early morning drive, but had a confirmation the day before. At a free seminar I had a chance encounter with a person that had the same surname as that of the TV Breakfast program presenter. He was the contact for “Open Book Publishers”, the printers of my first road safety book. People may find it strange, that I would take this as confirmation that I was on the right track. However, this is how I had operated for years and never regretted it; neither would I on that memorable Friday morning.
As a last minute thought I decided to not go empty-handed. I made up a little parcel with “gifts” for the two presenters. I had some prior fun with the program, suggesting wearing certain colour ties for the benefit of my wife (Chapter 54). What better memento for the male presenter than a tie. I chose a plain, bright red tie. It was part of the uniform of the “Pioneers”, the 9-11-year age group of Royal Rangers, the youth group I was a leader of years ago. I placed it in a box that previously contained a mouthorgan. I was amused to read on the outside of the box ‘Harmonica’ in the key of ‘C’. For the female presenter I included a sample pack of “Days Inn” Shampoo.
I don’t know if anyone noticed that I had wrapped the little parcel in gift wrapping that had “Michelle” as a theme. We had it in the cupboard even after our daughter Michelle had left to live in Sydney long ago. It was one year to the day, where the name of my son Ben and that of Michelle, nicknamed Mich, played a role in incredible events.
My diary tells that I slept badly that night. “I keep waking lately on numbers, 210, 305 etc. it happens so much, as if God is confirming it”.
Getting up early and driving to the Barossa was no effort. The weather was fine and mild, just a little mist with high humidity. I entered the resort, a large complex near Rowland Flat, to be told that entry was only for residents. (The establishment belonged to the same chain of Hotels as the one where I had attended the previous afternoon’s seminar). Had I driven almost an hour for nothing? Thankfully, it was only the sit-down area that was reserved for house guests. Enquiring about the TV broadcast, I was told to follow a young lady around the back. She was part of the production crew. Straight away I handed her my little “larrikin-gift” to pass on to the two presenters.
The show came live from the rear veranda area of the Hotel with the magnificent panorama of the surrounding hills as back drop. I was surprised not more people had come for the free BBQ breakfast. Some people were seated at outdoor tables, some stood and watched on monitors, as the live-program went to air. After a quick look around I just walked up to a man, as I often do, and just start talking. A short time into our conversation I discovered a most remarkable co-incidence:
The man, probably in his mid 50’s, was from Wilmington in the southern Flinders Ranges, four hours drive away. His name was Roger P. (the name sounds very much like peace). On 22/6 a man and his girl friend died in a car crash near Wilmington (see News update 4/7/03). His name was Ben Paxton. Pax is Latin for “peace”. Roger’s nephew was a passenger in the crashed vehicle that night. He was injured. I later met Roger’s wife Helen. She wondered why I was taking such an interest in a car crash that occurred exactly two months earlier. Where would I start to try and explain?
The couple had planned some time ago to have a break at the resort. They had only been told of the TV broadcast a short time before. As I was busy talking to Roger we must have been in line of the camera. Isobel told me later she saw me briefly on TV talking to a man.
If Roger’s wife Helen had realized the fluke of our paths crossing, she would have known, why I took so much interest in them. Before we parted I gave them my business card to check out my website. I spent another hour or so watching the program and mingling with the visitors. It was quite an eye opener to realize the amount of equipment that is necessary for a live-telecast.
After the show people mingled with the famous faces. A boy named Jory had his school diary signed by David, the male presenter. Other school kids asked for autographs, while the hosts chatted with those around. They seemed just as friendly off camera as they were on the screen. I was able to have a few words with the young lady presenter. I just said that I had left a small parcel with her crew. She asked for my name. I think she would have chatted a little longer, but I was the shy one who wanted to get away.
I had planned long ago that on the first anniversary I was going to visit the crash site of the second road death I took note of. I had never been near it. It is located in the far southern suburbs of Adelaide. We live in the north. As I exited my driveway I noticed a vehicle stopped outside our neighbour’s house. The lady, the wife of Ben, who I had known for a long time, lives around the corner in Todd Road. Was this a kind of a message for me? She called out as I went by: “…just delivering a letter sent to the wrong address!”
Considering that Tod means death in German and I was on the way to visit a site where a Ben died a year earlier, I found it incredibly amazing. How often does Australia Post deliver a letter to the wrong address?
I didn’t know what to expect as I drove in bright sunshine south through the suburbs to Aberfoyle Park. On the way I stopped at a shopping mall to buy flowers to place at the site. The huge tree, overflowing with tributes all over, was not hard to find. I parked in Greenfield Ct. near the corner of “The Parkway”. The number of the bus stop right opposite the crash site leapt into my face, number 51. I noticed a candle burning under the tree. It did not seem to get extinguished, despite the breeze that was blowing gently. Who had lit it? How long ago?
It was easy to see how the crash had come about. The road has a slight bend and is undulating. It would have only taken a bit of rain, a slight over correction of the steering wheel to loose control. I spent maybe 10 minutes standing by that tree, just taking it all in, fighting tears.
That evening the news reported an item that may or may not be of significance. Just after midnight early that Friday 22.8.03 an earthquake in New Zealand’s South Island was measured as 7.1 on the Richter scale. (Richter = Judge in German). It was reported as the biggest in 10 years and the first one to be felt across the Tasman Sea, in Sydney, in 50 years. My diary asks: “Is it true?” Perhaps the fact that it was so huge, that it was felt in Australia, but did only little damage in New Zealand made me think. (The number combinations are another story).
My diary expresses my thoughts simply:
It all just amazes me.