That line, first heard 2500 years ago from the Greek playwright Aeschylus in one of his tragedies, came to me one Friday evening as I was driving our year-old Tesla Model 3 through crowded downtown Boulder, Colorado, my hometown. Here’s what happened...
It was around 7 pm. Usually, my wife and I attend events together. But this was a Baroque concert on University Hill, and, unlike me, Cedar isn’t a fan of Baroque music. Plus it was a free concert, always a big selling point for this retiree. So I was driving our still-unscratched electric vehicle alone. Given the traffic, I was going to be 10-15-minutes late. To my credit, I wasn’t rushing. I had a number of routes I could have taken. For whatever reason, I chose to turn west onto Pearl Street, teeming on weekend evenings with patrons of the myriad restaurants and bars found there. I was stopped before the crowded 10th Street crosswalk. There was one car ahead of me. I was perhaps three feet behind it. To my right was a row of cars in angled parking spots. Traffic was lined up behind me. Suddenly I became aware of one of those parked cars starting to back out. An instantaneous calculation told me it was headed right for my still-inviolate right-rear fender. I had no place to go. The accident was fated to happen. It did.
The driver of the other car, a late-model Audi, and I both got out of our vehicles. He had been looking back in the other direction to make sure not to hit the car waiting eagerly for his spot. He never saw me. We both drove around the corner to the alley, where we exchanged information. Fortunately, both cars were still drivable. He was nice enough, said he was CEO of a big company in town and that his insurance would cover the cost of our repairs. He’d call them Monday morning. As it turned out, his car would need more work than mine, which had suffered what looked like minimal damage. At this point, I was planning to go home. The other driver, however, encouraged me to go to my concert anyway. “It was just a fender-bender,” he insisted. No need for it to ruin my evening, he added. So I went.
When all these circumstances conspired to lead to the accident, that line from Aeschylus—one I hadn’t thought of in decades—popped into my head. Like Orestes, prophesied to kill his father and marry his mother, his attempt to flee from his destiny proved fruitless. Fortunately, my tragedy was way more minor. Still, I was reminded of the saying, the best-laid plans of mice and men oft go awry. Mine did, and the fated thing really did happen.