Imperfect Witness

Twice in my life I’ve had to give a formal statement to the police about incidents that occurred while I was at work.

Neither incident involved me directly, but I was an external witness to them, and as such I was required by my employer to do my civic duty and help the police with collating all relevant information. The thing is, it’s surprisingly difficult to give a description of something (or someone) at a later date that you had no reason at the time to believe you would have to remember.

Because when something that seems to be a reasonably normal part of everyday life occurs in the course of a working day, when you are distracted and thinking about usual work-related stuff instead of – ‘Ooh, I’d better pay attention to every detail of everything that’s happening around me just in case an alleged crime happens’ – you simply don’t remember anything accurately because at the time there was no reason for you to make note of it in the first place.

And in your normal daily life, if you do notice something about someone or something while just going about your everyday business that you are able to describe, it’s usually because there’s a particular circumstance that captures your attention just at that moment – a specific event happens, a loud noise occurs, a moving colour or a shape catches your eye, something looks out of place or odd, you’re feeling ominous or afraid, or whatever.

In general it’s surprising just how oblivious to our surroundings we can be, though, as we sail through our lives engrossed in our own little internal worlds, focusing on a million things other than looking around and taking note of others and their actions in order to become the perfect witness should something untoward arise in the future… 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Description

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