It had been a wonderful evening spent with my husband and a dear friend. Christmas lights, music, delightful conversation. Warm fuzzies all around.
Afterward we were driving my friend home. At least that was the plan. I was a snuggled down contentedly in the car, knowing my husband knew where he was going much better than I did. (I’m a bit geographically challenged at the best of times.)
We were in the midst of a surreal wind storm that had caused power outages all over town. The neighborhood we were in was pitch black, except for the headlights of cars. Everyone was being very cautious and taking turns. It was our turn. Really. It was.
And then, just like that, we were spinning around in an intersection. It all happened in slow motion. I remember thinking, “Oh. I’m spinning. I’ve never spun before.”
It’s funny where your mind goes in these situations.
The idiot, an arrogant 33 year old man fresh from a Christmas Party where he most likely indulged in too much holiday cheer, had blown right through the intersection. Luckily my husband saw what was about to happen and was able to accelerate enough so that the stupid punk hit the rear quarter panel, rather than hitting us broadside and most likely killing us all.
Then comes the standard stuff in these situations. Is everyone all right? Yes, considering. Neck and back discomfort. Nothing broken. No blood. The calling of the cops, who refuse to come out because there were no injuries, and we had managed to roll our car off the road. (If I had a dollar for every time a Seattle cop had refused to come when I called, I could retire now. I’m not impressed. If you live in this town, you’re on your freakin’ own.)
The arrogant punk said he wasn’t speeding. It took everything in me not to launch myself at his throat. Dude, you spun our car around. In an unlit intersection, where every other car was stopped. “Oh, was the power out?” Jesus. Seriously?
And then, as further proof that this was not his first rodeo, he said, “I’m not going to admit to any fault.” You learn to say that at driver’s school, and you usually only go there if you’re trying to avoid points on your license. Thank goodness a witness came forward.
The exchange of information. The calling of a tow truck. The calling of the insurance agency. The calling in sick to work the next day. The gradual realization that our car is most likely toast. The nausea from the adrenaline dump. Fighting the desire to cry so as not to freak out one’s spouse. Getting home 4 hours later than you originally intended. Feeling changed.
I was afraid to go to bed. I figured I had whiplash, and I was going to wake up in agony, and that pain would be with me for weeks, maybe months. Finally, at 2 am, I had no choice.
Lying there, waiting for sleep to take us, we engaged in the useless game of what ifs. What if we had taken another route, as suggested? What if I hadn’t asked for that detour to take pictures of the Lenin Statue, all decked out for the holidays? What if our passenger hadn’t put on her seatbelt? What if her son, one of my favorite kids in the entire world, had been in the car with us? Worst of all, what if my husband hadn’t had the presence of mind to accelerate, and the car had hit him directly in the shoulder and he had been killed, when we’ve only been married for three months? That is how my luck tends to run…
I’ve written about this before, how everything can change in an instant. It was all so surreal. It still is. If we humans kept the fact that the world is entirely arbitrary in the forefront of our minds, I don’t think any one of us could remain sane for long. The sands of life are just a little too shifty to allow us to remain upright.
So it’s official. My song for the season is, “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth… to Remain in My Head as We Spin Out in This Intersection.”
Update: No injuries on our side, and our car was, indeed, totalled. I hope the little punk’s d*** fell off, but at the very least I can comfort myself with the fact that his insurance rates will rise.
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