Cars, Police and Grown-Up Things

27 Jun

I am so shaken up right now I am finding it hard to type. I had my first car accident as an adult today.

I was NOT to blame. 

I had just left my first job in town A (after working an 8 hr shift) and was on my way to my part-time job in town K (for another 4 1/2 hr shift) and I was hoping to swing by the Graduation Fair my college was holding.

So let me set this up for you…. I was stopped at a red light, maybe the 5th or 6th car back, and it was one of those situations where the car in front of you inches up a little bit, so you inch up a little bit and so on.

Now, I don’t drive a little car. I have a nice big old Escape that sits off the ground. IF YOU ARE BEHIND ME AT A STOPLIGHT, YOU WILL KNOW! TRUST ME!

Well, turns out that is NOT the case because the [little] car behind me REAR-ENDED me!! Her ENTIRE front end was underneath my back bumper! [I have never been so startled in my life! LAST THING I expected was to be hit while STOPPED at a RED LIGHT!!!]

I don’t know what the woman was doing… not paying attention, talking on her cell phone, texting, looking around or down…. I don’t know and honestly I don’t care. I am just THANKFUL that I was taught to leave enough space between my car and the car in front of me, or else I would have been in a car sandwich!

So, she calls the police and I call dad. (Thank goodness we both work in the same town and he’d just gotten off work.) And while we are waiting for said police to arrive, I have to call my supervisor at my other job to explain why I wouldn’t be in today [ A day off, courtesy of a driver who wasn’t paying attention]. And because I don’t keep anything from him, texted the boyfriend. He may have been more freaked out than I was. (I LOVE you! And I’m sorry for scaring you!)

The police arrive after what seems like an eternity and have us move our cars to a side road. (By now my dad has also arrived. Dad to the rescue.) The woman has apologized 5 or 6 times and I could tell she was sorry (I was worried about her niece in the back of her car, never did hear if she was hurt or not. Keeping her in my thoughts).

We did the licence and prof of insurance thing. Waited in the hot sun while they filed the report. And then I was free to go with the promise that her insurance company would be in touch to pay for the damage to my car. (Not much, thank goodness. Just some clip under the bumper broke that holds wires and other odds and ends for the back lights up and out-of-the-way. Now it awkwardly dangles. Great. On the bright side, it wasn’t worse and I wasn’t hurt!)

Now it was time to get back in the car. I really didn’t want to. I was panicking just thinking about driving again, but there was no other way to get my car home… a 30 minute drive I’ll have you know. But I did it. I faced that fear head on like I was taught.

I griped that steering wheel so hard the entire way home my knuckles turned WHITE! Every time a car got to close to my bumper my stomach did flips. I may have cried a little, too.

Safely home in my kitchen, the adrenaline stopped pumping and the fullness of what could have happened verse what actually happened sank in. My knees buckled.

Hours later, and somewhat calmer, I am so thankful that all who were involved with that accident are okay today. We all walked away unhurt. Yes, there was damage to both cars, but that is easily fixed. Replaced.

This experience has reminded me to be more alert while I am driving. My dad is always telling my sisters and I to anticipate what could happen. Will there be a deer that jumps out of that field? Will that motorcycle decide to pass you as you slow to make a left-hand turn? Will that truck slow down and stop at that four-way intersection? Will that little kid chase the ball into the road? These thoughts are constantly running through my head as I drive. And now I will add one more… are you leaving enough space between you and the car in front of you should the car behind you get to close?

I was lucky this time. But many others are not. We all need to be less distracted while driving. Put that cell phone down. Let someone else change the radio. Don’t turn to talk to your passengers. Simple things that cold save lives, but as a culture we aren’t doing them.

Why is that?

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