Wednesday, April 28, 2004

There have been a lot of near-misses on the street outside our apartment. Almost daily, I am distracted by screeching brakes and the honking of horns. Two days ago, these events were joined by the unmistakable crunch of impact. It wasn't that bad. Just some fender and grill damage. Later that day while sitting on the front porch, I witnessed a near head-on collision. Although all 3 cars left the scene unscathed, my mind conjured up a fiery inferno of a crash that sent one car up on the lawn and ignited the tree nearby. I've got to stop watching so many disaster movies.
Personally, I've been involved in four automobile accidents with me behind the wheel, one where I was the passenger, and one where my car was parked outside a fast food restaurant (I was mid-"I'll have a number 3 with cheese..." when I heard the crunch and my car alarm alerted me to the jackass who was trying to make a quick getaway). The first accident was a three-car pile up. I was third. We were going about 10 miles per hour, so only fenders were hurt. The second was at the merge of Rte 3 and Rte 46 in Jersey. Once again, all cars were going about 2 miles per hour. I bumped the Honda in front of me while I was trying to get into the next lane. No damage to her car, but she called me all the curse words I learned in Spanish class and claimed to have whiplash. The third was on a rainy Sunday night in college. I was on my way home from the hotel where I worked. The streets were flooded. A pick-up truck with monster wheels lost control and came into my lane. His large spinning wheels shaved a few inches off of the front left corner of my hood. We both got out and stood there for a minute in the downpour. I said, "Don't worry about it." He said, "Really?" The fourth should have been my last. There is no conceivable reason why I should have been allowed to survive. I hit a truck tire in the fast lane on a six lane highway. My front axle broke immediately. The steering wheel was rendered useless. It was rush hour. After crossing over all 6 lanes utterly out of control, the car hit a tree, slid back down the hill onto the highway again, crossed over 3 more lanes, and finally came to a rolling stop. Miraculously, all of the other drivers on the road were able to avoid my little white car throughout its adventure to and fro. I emerged more than a little shaken up. The CalTrans guy in an orange jumper who ran onto the highway to check on me said, "Wow. I can't believe you're not dead." I lost it. I think he felt bad for saying that.
Now, I drive like a grandma - slow and steady. My car actually has great pick up and can go really fast, but I've learned my lesson. I'm the one who gets over into the right hand lane a mile before the exit and waits patiently in the conga line of cars. I let people cut in front of me. You could fit an SUV in the space I leave in front of my car and behind the one I'm following. I never fail to use my signal. Tires in the road make me itch. Whenever a car comes peeling up the street in front of my house, I want to scream out loud, yell at them for being in such a rush, and turn the hose on them. With the way things are going lately on our street, I wouldn't be surprised if my fiery death inferno vision comes true. I just hope T$ and I are not sitting on the front porch when it happens.

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