I was in a car going south on 93 earlier tonight, and we passed an accident. Or, the remains of an accident. There were police cars, firetrucks, and I'm pretty sure there was an ambulance. I only saw one car. The doors were gone, and it had obviously been on fire. About ten yards past the smoldering wreck, there was a woman, in a sweater, crying. I don't know what happened to her. Maybe she'd been driving. Maybe she hadn't. Maybe there was another car, and maybe she'd been in it. Maybe someone she loved had been killed. Maybe this was the worst night of her life.
It seemed to me that the worst thing about this particular sort of tragedy, apart from the awful things it has in common with most other sorts of tragedies, is that it's played out in front of thousands of insulated, isolated observers. Thousands of little judgments being formed about her by complete strangers, at a time when she's completely unable to defend herself, and wouldn't be able to if she could. She might have known, or might have avoided thinking about, that some people were angry at her for holding up the traffic. Others were judging her as having poor driving skills, or imagined her being drunk. Some people might be drawing conclusions about her political or ideological affiliations, based on their own private biases. Some were probably just thrilled to see a fresh accident.
I doubt my writing about it here is helping minimize the exposure she must have felt, but I hope she knows that at least some of the people passing her noticed her suffering as more than an inconvenient traffic jam.