Yesterday, one of my students – an Iraqi in his early twenties – told us how, the day before, he had accidentally driven the wrong way down a motorway exit and the only vehicle coming the other way – a large truck – leant on its horn but, otherwise, made no attempt to slow down or stop or in any way avoid what was going to be a head-on collision. My student had then pulled on the hand-brake and, after spinning around two or three times – narrowly missing the truck – found his car, by chance, facing in the right direction, and so was able to drive up beside the truck, which was now at the traffic lights, waiting to turn left.
He then told us that what had most shocked him about this – he, who as a taxi driver in Baghdad had had many near misses with explosions and drivers that panicked during sniper attacks – was that, at the lights, he could see the truck driver laughing. He wound down the window and shouted that the truck driver had very nearly killed him, but the man called back that it wouldn’t have bothered him as it wouldn’t have been his fault. Anyone watching – any half-brain on the motorway – would have seen by half a mile it was the car that was in the wrong.