O my prophetic soul! Was it only a few days ago that I used the example of witnesses to a road crash to illustrate how subjective memory and experience can be?
Interesting how thought and 'running over in one's mind' introduces doubt - which lane were we in? No matter. It is a trivial example with potentially broad implications, let me explain.
I have mentioned somewhere, that I am not currently living in a place I could call 'home'. This makes me subject to somewhat different views of laws, rules and customs. Things can be ... arbitrary. Many things you might take for granted are not reliable - for example, a decent taxi service. Usually I drive myself but currently I am unable to and am thus dependent on either the generosity of friends or a 'private taxi' service. There are other services but I have no history or relationship with them, and thus no sense of their reliability.
On the way home this morning there was a 'prang'. Not at speed, on a roundabout, with only a small amount of damage to bodywork sustained. Neither driver nor passenger experienced any effects of the 'bump'. The two drivers got out of their vehicles, while I stayed quietly in the back seat, minding my own business, wanting to go home and wondering how long the delay would last. I watched the drivers meet, point, gesticulate, get out telephones, wave their arms in the air, stamp feet, turn backs, shrug shoulders ... it was quite a pantomime.
I rang a friend to arrange a rescue. I sent a text to 'him indoors' saying what had happened.
Eventually, my driver came back, apologised very nicely and said he would drive me home while the police were en route and then return to the scene of the encounter. I called my friend off, gratefully.
As we drove off the driver raised his fist and shook it at the other man, and forgetting myself, I said 'Stop that nonsense.' I was on the phone at the time, so maybe he thought I was not speaking to him.
As we pulled into my street, I offered some conciliatory words and wished him luck. And he said, the police will be around to ask witness questions. I am not entirely sure if he meant they would come to see me, or not. It seems ludicrous to waste their time on such a trivial matter, but it left me in a tricky situation: you see, I know a little bit about road safety and traffic. In a previous existence ... no. But I think my driver was at fault, from my less than ideal view in the back seat, it was he who did the wrong thing. In fact, I said 'watch out' before the two vehicles engaged, not expecting them to actually touch!
I have no deep sense of allegiance to him or to the other man, and I wasn't driving, nor in the front seat. If the police do come and disturb my peace I will have to tell them what I did see though, won't I? What am I certain of? We were in the inside lane (weren't we?) and the other chap was in the middle lane (as far as I could tell) and then ... did anybody signal? Were the drivers watching the traffic? Did I actually see anything useful?
My natural reaction is to stand up and proclaim the Truth. Now I suspect that the truth is a very slippery customer indeed.