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The Quietest Room in Town

They have been expecting you. They knew that eventually you'd show up. It won't be possible for you to know what is happening, so, I'm going to take the liberty of filling you in.

The beginning for you will be when you stagger to your car. The beginning for them will be when a bulletin goes out on the police radio reporting the location of a serious accident with instructions to "proceed at once." You won't hear the sirens. The ambulance and police car will arrive together. They will check you over and pronouce you dead.

A few curious motorists who heard the crash will stop their cars and walk back to look at your broken, bloody body. Some of them will get sick.

The ambulance driver will roll out a leather-covered stretcher. The attendant will stuff your hands under your belt and grab you under the arms. The driver will take hold of your legs. You will be placed on the strecher and covered with a blanket.

They will drive you to the coroner's office, where a deputy coroner will wheel you over to a big scale. He will remove the blanket, shake his head and say, "Another one."

Your clothes will be cut off with scissors. You will be weighed and measured. The deputy coroner will make a record of your injuries, cover you up again and wheel you to a small room with white tile walls. There are hoses in that room. Traffic victims are almost always a bloody mess.

You will be cleaned up (as much as possible) and moved to a long hall with several stretchers lined up against its pale green walls. In that hall are 41 crypts. If it has been a slow evening, you will have a stretcher and crypt to yourself. But if it's Christmas, New Year's or Memorial Day weekend, you have lots of company. They will go away and leave you there in the quietest room in town.

In an hour or so, they will come back and move you again. You will be placed behind a large glass window so your wife or husband or your parents can identify you.

You won't see the agony and pain in their eyes, and it's just as well. Nor will you hear the screams and sobbing when they lower the sheet and ask, "Is this you husband...wife...son...daughter..brother...sister...friend?"

As I was saying, they are waiting for you--the police, the ambulance crews, the coroners at the morgue and the morticians. They are expecting you.

Remember this tonight, when you toss down that last drink and climb behind the steering wheel.

Ann Landers



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