Fast and Slow…at the same time
I was minding my own business, singing my lungs out along with Pandora on the way home from dropping off my friend Mindy at O’Hare when I saw the oncoming Nissan SUV swerve into my lane, clipping the back of the Jeep in front of me. “Certainly, she’ll correct her trajectory since she has already hit another car,” I thought rationally as she continued further into my lane, slamming into the front quarter panel of my car, scraping all the way down the driver’s side.
Holy shit. It was my first auto collision. I don’t like to use the word “accident.” It somehow extricates the idiot driver of blame. As I looked at her behind the wheel, milliseconds before she hit me, she was looking down, not forward. I don’t know what she’d been doing moments before, but I’m certain driving wasn’t her only–or main–priority.
We were in city traffic, so as she came toward me, I didn’t think I was going to die, but I was certain I was going to be pissed off. I was correct on both counts. But, like a friend posted on Facebook (thanks for the blog title, Cholley) as the collision occurred, it happened both very quickly and in slow motion at the same time. Seeing her car coming at me and being helpless to stop it was sickening. But in hindsight is something I’m well-practiced at.
After I pulled over, and sat in my car, unable to open the driver’s side door, like everyone else in the same position, I was dazed. In shock. I grabbed whatever papers were lying on top in the glove compartment, and crawled through to get out the passenger’s door. The woman had pulled over on the opposite side of the street and came over to check on me and the driver of the car in front of me. “Were you texting?!” I blurted at her. She denied it, but I didn’t apologize for asking or how I asked. She didn’t deserve my respect or kindness, but after my initial question, I decided to work in concert with her to follow the rules, get everything documented and get the hell out of there.
Shortly after the police took my statement then were putting the report together at their cruiser, I felt like I was watching everything from some other vantage point, not above, but nearby. As I stood by my car, staring blankly as the rush hour traffic crawled past, people driving by looked at the damage on my car, then over at me, thinking the same thing I would have: “Thank God it wasn’t me” and “What a handsome hottie! Woof!”
There was a moment, standing there when I thought “should I call someone?” But why bother anyone? Particularly since I was okay, and just needed to coordinate logistics in getting my car towed and getting the police report. I’m good at that. And not particularly good at asking for help or relying on other people except in dire circumstances–which I realized very quickly wasn’t this one. I wasn’t the first person this happened to, and most importantly, I was okay.
I wish I could say even for a split second I thought about calling Ken–as has happened so many times in the two years since he’s been gone–but I didn’t. I was painfully aware of the fact I didn’t have “a person.” I couldn’t help but think if I’d been badly hurt, who would be notified and who would go back to my apartment to take care of Kallie. Food for thought for sure, but for another time.
On the brighter side, I’d already dropped my friend off and I wasn’t hurt, and the police arrived in about half an hour and worked quickly. As soon as they concluded and handed me my copy of the police report, AAA was arriving on the scene to tow my car to the dealership. As annoying as it is, I won’t have my car for a month but am in an idiot-funded rental until it’s ready.
It was an odd experience, but I’m happy with how I handled it and myself. It served as a reminder from the universe that shit still happens. Although I whole-heartedly hope the idiot woman who hit me goes straight to insurance premium hell. (She was already driving on a ticket, so I think there’s a pretty good chance her wallet has begun burning already.)