Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Car Wreck

As evening falls, I'm preparing to go see a play with my sister, about an hour's drive away, because we had free tickets thanks to a friend on the theater staff.

I'm rather proud of my sister's good looks as we set off, sampling music from her recent Christmas acquisition, one of the albums by the group Secret Garden.

Scarcely 15 minutes down the road, heading towards one town, we are approaching an overpass which spans a major highway in the area. If you were to travel in the opposite lane, away from town, and desired to turn onto the highway, you would turn LEFT, across the lane of oncoming traffic, to merge onto the highway.

It was one such driver who was preparing to make said turn that executed the endeavor at a very bad time, considering I was a scant few seconds away, traveling at the speed limit of about 55mph. The car turned into my lane, giving me very little reaction time, causing me to slam the front-left corner of the automobile into the other, whereupon we bounced up against the railing (those things are sturdier than they look) which, unscathed, bounced us back into the lane, neat as neat. (Except, of course, for the road debris and massive damage to the cars.)

This was the first traffic incident I had ever been involved in. Needless to say, it put a sad and hasty end to any theater plans!

It's amazing how quickly and suddenly the course of a day can change. Not only of a day, but of the next several months. The car is totaled, and will need to be replaced. The availability and time required to purchase a car is such that my college classes may be altered to carpool my way to the university.

You can’t beat that "oh my gosh this is really happening" feeling when you realize you won’t be able to avoid hitting that car ahead of you. You also can't anticipate how you'll react in a situation like that. I surprised myself by being totally calm and unjarred by the whole thing. Nevertheless, being a "rookie wreckie" there were a couple of details that escaped my notice, such as the reason why the car would not restart. (I turned it off as soon as the tires stopped rolling, and forgot to note that the car was still in Drive, which is why I could not get the keys out of the ignition, or start the thing back up.)

"No one is ever told what would have happened," C.S. Lewis's Aslan tells the children. But I still can't help but run over all of the different factors and wonder what may have changed if I had gotten in the car one second earlier or later. What would have happened if I had been going faster or slower, or stopped to change a CD, or if an animal ran out in front and caused me to slow. Would the accident have been better? Worse? Nonexistent?

At any rate, although I would not have expected to die in such a wreck, it is gratifying to have escaped with nothing more than tender biceps from intense steering-wheel gripping.

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