I haven’t often found myself in a situation that involves the possibility of my own death. I cannot remember the last time I came this close outside of being put under for surgery — which, being at a hospital, is not a bad place for the risk of anesthesia — but it’s been several years.
Thursday night, I’m heading to pick up from soccer practice. I have a podcast going (that I may never finish now), I’m minding my own business. Driving east, going around fifty miles per hour, with the left turn to get to the sports facility coming up. In my head, I’m thinking about quick routines I could add to my day as small workouts. Maybe I can walk more.
Bam. The loudest sound I’ve ever heard aside from a shotgun without hearing protection. “Am I really getting rear-ended again?” For the briefest of moments, it was a simple fender bender in my mind.
But then the car flies into the median, and I suddenly understand: i am no longer in control of this vehicle. As I skid toward oncoming traffic, I am making my best efforts to stay in the median. It doesn’t work. My car stops facing south in the westbound lane.
I did not hesitate: I pushed the gas to get the vehicle out of traffic. People are asking if I’m ok. I feel ok. The other driver is apologizing, and I say, “I’m ok. I have to call 911.” I call 911, and the man answers just in time for a police officer to show up. That is some timing.
It turns out, the young woman who hit me also clipped another car earlier in the evening — and the cops were looking for her. The officer who stopped came from the east, was driving the highway back toward the initial accident to find the driver. She was intoxicated (and possibly further drugged), and also claimed several times to police to have run over and killed a pedestrian a few towns over. That appears to be true, as of now, as there was an unsolved hit-and-run fatality the night before.
I talked to several police. I called my wife and arranged for someone else to do the pick-up, then I called my parents. I spoke to the paramedics. I’m fine. They take her away in the ambulance, after apparently placing her under arrest. They at one point had to threaten to tie her to the gurney. I overheard snippets of her ravings at the police officers.
Alternate ride shows up, a friend closer to the soccer field than we live, followed shortly by my dad. We all agree: I’m pretty lucky, but the car is likely gone. Then I thank our friend, and catch a ride with my dad.
It’s a strange thing. I’m in my early-mid thirties. I walked away, out a car and a laptop (luckily I was able to salvage the hard drive contents). But had much of anything been different — I might not be making this post. Had she been going faster, or I not worn a seatbelt, or oncoming traffic been distracted by their phones.
Several times I’ve had a momentary, odd thought. “What if I actually did die, and this is some sort of odd transition?” I know it’s not so — but what would I know if I’d died?
Friday was spent dealing with the regular parts of Friday, and then insurance, checking on the police report (Wednesday at the earliest), getting a rental (which insurance covers). A bit of time checking out cars in the price range I want — low, something I can beat to hell and back without feeling the pinch. Saturday and Sunday were about getting back to normal. Today I went to work.
But it’s jarring. They say you feel like you’re bullet proof as a teenager, but I can’t help but feel extremely blessed and lucky. Someone else created a deadly circumstance and I happened to fall into that scenario, but I’m physically totally fine. I’m not even all that emotionally shaken other than the feeling of, “wow, that was scary.”
At the time, it wasn’t. Time didn’t slow down, I didn’t see my life flash before my eyes. There was no time for anything, just, “turn, keep out of traffic.” It was almost like my conscious mind tagged out, letting some underlying survival instinct into the ring — and damned, if the two of them aren’t now the world tag team champions of keeping my ass alive.
I’ll have the Hurricane Audrey chapter tomorrow, then hopefully a book review Wednesday. I need to blog more, I’ve got more to say.