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Submitted into Contest #39 in response to: Write a story about a Google Street View driver.... view prompt

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As a  google street view driver, I received my daily quota of getting around before I switch out.For the most part, I pick more common roads, things people want to see. I may like a neighborhood, but no one wants to see residential streets.

I try to plan out my trip from point A to point B and stick to that.As long as I cover the main roads and hit the data quota, I am fine.

I started the day : mostly non-rush hours.Picked a comparatively secluded area, although lots of tourists come here every year from all parts of the world.However  today because of the COVID-19 quarantine, roads were all empty .It was the city of Darjeeling.I'm sitting in the car  and thinking that driving for the whole day won't get very boring today with all the mountainous surrounding, beautiful weather and lush green terrain. Still to fight boredom, I usually have podcasts to listen to.Normally the company  asks you to surrender your phone while driving.Lockdown still going on in India at this time.

I was driving with all the equipment and camera set up on the car.I did not have to do much as there was no one on the road, no traffic, no one trying to flip off the camera or moon the camera, felt like even the birds were on lockdown.Other times birds crapping on the camera and blocking the street view was a big problem.

As I am driving ,I see a small group of people:4-5 people standing on the sidewalk..A man was waving his hands signalling me to stop ; beside him was a woman sitting in an awkward posture surrounded by 2 more women.For the most part, the camera  does the censoring itself and I don't have to stop because of  interferences .I've noticed that besides license plates, phone numbers and the like are blurred too. But obstructing people is not one of the expertise of the camera or the google street view car.

I had no choice.I stopped the car and got out to talk them out of my way.What I saw there was a real life crisis.My conscience did not allow me to ignore the situation and just leave.The husband was begging me to take his pregnant wife to the hospital.She unexpectedly went into labor.

If I were that Good Samaritan, I would have been stumped. I’m a woman, and a mother, but I have no idea what to do for a woman in labor. I know CPR, including what to do if someone is drowning; I know the Heimlich maneuver; I learned how to do a tourniquet in high school; I was tested on how to make a flotation device out of my own pants. And though I’ve never used any of these skills, I value them in theory. But never once in all my travels have I been instructed, in any rudimentary sense, what to do for a woman in any stage of labor. I suspect that we’re all still a little bit uncomfortable with the process of bringing life into the world, and most of us only ever learn about it when absolutely necessary. 

Most importantly there are rules and regulations about allowing any other person in the google street view car, as I will be liable for any kind of problem and damage to the car or the person.I was reluctant to help because of the legality and asked the husband to call the ambulance. Unfortunately, in India it is very uncommon for people to get help calling an equivalent number of 911 as in the USA.It never works and is very unreliable.

I was in a big conundrum and could not decide what to do.So I did a big favor to my self-conscience and agreed to help.I took the responsibility of all the legal issues that may arise.I also sidelined the thought of getting fired from my job.I jumped right in for whatever situation lies ahead of me.

I helped the woman sit comfortably in the car, looked up for the nearest hospital on google maps and started driving.Being a google street view car driver was a big advantage for me at that time of urgency.I already knew the roads and the so it was easy for me to follow the google maps driving directions.  

The hospital was a good 50 minutes drive.I was not sure the baby will wait for that long.The woman was in agonizing pain and screaming for help.It was hard to see another human being going through so much pain.

“She was in active labor.”

I started questioning my motherly skills and that gave me the courage to jump right in to help her with whatever skill I had.Because I suspected if the woman would make it to the hospital alive.The sun was almost about to set.I had to make a  fast decision.

I left the car’s engine  running and together we took the woman out of the car, cleaned a little bit of space, spread a sheet and got prepared for the delivery right there next to the side walk.I had plenty of water, and my to-go first-aid box in the car. With little bit of effort and motivation the woman was able to deliver the most beautiful baby boy .Both mother and child were safe and healthy.I was very proud of the mother and myself.

In my wildest dream, I never thought that as a Google Street View driver ,one day I will perform this kind of task.Google Street View cars are supposed to collect data for road maps and directions which is supported with photographs.This helps people to steer around and reach their destination.

The only thought that was racing in my mind was that, "the worst were the people who saw Google Street View cars as the biggest invasion of privacy ever”. It didn't happen in this case but it was  rare. Sometimes if I was at a red light, I would see people wave their arms at me. It wasn't always in excitement. Some would try to flag me down to tell me about the displeasure of being photographed. Since the car’s engine was on, the camera took the memorable pictures of delivery , but in a video-sense ; basically like a time-lapse . The Street View isn't fluid motion; rather you see it in chunks.But it was still beautiful.

We finally gathered everyone and reached the hospital.I was happy that , on this day, as a google street view driver, I helped a new life steer his way to the world with no driving direction, no maps and no street view photographs.Non-relevant but important.

May 01, 2020 20:59

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1 comment

Leila Adams
18:42 May 05, 2020

Great idea for a story!


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