opinion

From the editor: Geraldton’s spirit of kindness shines after alleged road rage incident

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Kate CampbellGeraldton Guardian
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Steve Zimmermann and his fiancee Leela Klein at Royal Perth Hospital yesterday.
Camera IconSteve Zimmermann and his fiancee Leela Klein at Royal Perth Hospital yesterday. Credit: Supplied/Supplied

I’ll admit a few things from the outset.

I swear a lot more behind the wheel than I do away from it. I’ve had some choice words to say about drivers in front or to the side of me, none of which I would say to them face-to-face.

I’ve been stressed, impatient and foul-mouthed in the driver’s seat. But it’s never descended into road rage. And it’s always in my mind when I have a (more often than not fair) go at another road user that I don’t know how they are going to react. Perhaps I became a jaded and sometimes impatient driver spending the better part of 15 years navigating Perth roads.

In our own car or bike bubbles, we sometimes behave in ways we wouldn’t off the road. We, myself included, need to learn to live like Frozen and let it go.

Last week’s shocking allegations of road rage that left German backpacker Steve Zimmermann facing the prospect of never walking again has reverberated throughout the Geraldton community.

What happened and why during those seconds and minutes and what will happen to accused driver Paul Stuart Meadowcroft will fully emerge during the court process. But I choose to believe this was an isolated incident and that Geraldton does not have a road rage problem.

The kindness and compassion for our fellow humans speaks volumes more about this community than the alleged actions of one person.

I used to live 20 minutes away from my work in Perth, and it used to regularly take me almost an hour each way some days and nights. But there is never any justification for impatience and frustration to turn into aggression or violence. We’ve all seen those alarming dashcam videos of people fighting on the side of the road or someone smashing up a stranger’s car because of something minor.

It makes you shudder how something innocuous can quickly turn so ugly.

And I don’t want people to think this episode reflects more widely on our community. What we instead should focus on is how the community responded. To the quick-thinking strangers who stopped to help Mr Zimmermann — including two ladies who later dropped off flowers, a card and new headphones to replace the ones the cyclist had lost at the hospital. And the fast-acting and compassionate medicos and first responders. And countless people flooding Mr Zimmermann and his fiancee Leela Klein with well wishes and offers of assistance, helping them stay strong. And those who have donated thousands of dollars so far to help the couple with their medical and day-to-day care costs.

That kindness and compassion for our fellow humans speaks volumes more about this community than the alleged actions of one person.

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