Friday, February 20

A tale of two accidents

Two years ago on the evening of February 19, I stood with Noah and his mom in a patient room of the vet's office as their dog, Suzy, was put to sleep. On the same day last year, I had given birth. Both times, I felt like I had been hit by a bus. This year, I feel like the bus driver.

As we were about to merge onto U.S. 52, standing at the corner where the highway entrance and a gas station meet, a scraggly yet strangely preppy looking guy held a small cardboard sign that read: "Y-LIE? Need a beer."

After laughing, my immediate thought was, "Don't we all, buddy."

We were getting on the highway to go to Shep's Towing & Recovery in Greensboro, where our Ford Focus sat, crumpled and broken, waiting for us to retrieve our belongings. You see, on Tuesday morning I had a fender bender with a friend as we were both leaving the neighborhood, but on Tuesday night, a woman ran a red light and t-boned our other car while I was driving home from class. Needless to say, not the best day in history.

Both of her airbags went off, and when she got out, her hands were shaking like she had an advanced case of Parkinson's disease, but it was really just the shock. I didn't even know it at the time, but she hit me so hard that she pushed my car sideways into the next lane, where I hit the back bumper of another driver as he passed.

His name was A.J. He was dressed like any other business-casual kind of guy, but I learned that he was on his way home to Winston-Salem after having the inner portion of a half-sleeve tattooed on his arm. He drove an old but cared-for Cadillac, and offered me the front passenger seat and some warm air as we waited for the police officer to fill out the necessary components of the report in the chill of a night already a few hours past twilight. He said he didn't want to sound weird, but he could give me a ride home if I needed since we apparently lived just a couple of miles away from each other, although we both were fated to be in Greensboro on the same night, at the same late hour, taking off from the same fresh green light simultaneously. I told him thanks, but it might be a while before the tow truck arrived.

The police officer, upon discovery that I was the wife of a comrade, cleared his front seat so I could sit in his car with him while I waited for my father-in-law to pick me up (remember, our other car was un-drivable after the morning accident). Officer Buchanan and I chatted about the life of a peace officer and how it isn't really such a peaceful thing. He had the heat set to high because his window was still down from when he asked A.J. and I questions while he wrote; he asked about my temperature, then turned the heat down so I wouldn't be too warm. When my father-in-law arrived, Buchanan and I shook hands and I left, grateful to be an insider, to be relieved rather than uncomfortable by the presence of a police officer. To be fluent in his language. I think, in a way, it was a relief for him too. He knew I could be trusted, wouldn't be a threat or a nuisance.

* * * * *
When we arrived at Shep's, a huge lot of vehicular demise around which a rather lovely and unexpected neighborhood is developing, almost everyone was gone. It was just a few minutes before they closed shop. We drove up to our car, our first car together that we saved up for months so as to buy with cash, and emptied it. An infant car seat base. A jack set. A car fan from the summer, when Ethan would get too hot in the back seat. A handful of change.

Upon inspection, the damage was pretty severe. It's probably totaled. At first Noah had no idea how bad it was because when I called him from the gas station shortly after the accident, all I told him was where I was, that I needed to be picked up, and that the front wheel was bent. What I failed to mention was that in addition to the askance front wheel, the whole passenger door was smashed in--so much that the top of the door is arching out away from the frame though the impact was at the bottom of it. The bumper is busted on the side that hit A.J.'s Caddy.

Before closing the door, Noah patted the steering wheel. We got into the rental car and drove home, without looking back.


Anonymous said...

Geez Erin, talk about bad luck! Glad to hear that you weren't hurt - the things that life throws at us eh! Sue x

Maggie May said...

oh i'm sorry. i was the cause of this exact same accident :) i'm very sad to say, two years ago. it was during a very stressful and sad time of my life and to this day i don't know how i missed that red light. i t=boned the woman, but her car wasn't totalled. i cried buckets and apologized and i still feel badly about it.

i'm so glad you are ok.

Erin said...

Thanks for the well wishes, friends. And Maggie May--I feel for ya. I was actually calming down the woman who hit me, poor thing. Having just been the responsible party in a wreck EARLIER THAT DAY, I could empathize and didn't want to make it any worse for her.

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