Over a week ago Sukie and I were in a car accident. Sukie was driving, and I was in the passenger seat.
As we approached an intersection, maybe 15 feet from the intersection, the light turned yellow. We were going about 40mph, so we started to go through the intersection. It was one of those nervous moments when you notice the vehicle on the other side of the intersection is turning left and you hope they see that you are coming and they don’t pull out. I remember thinking this to myself, there’s no way they aren’t pulling out, and then they were …
The timing on that truck pulling out in front of us was like somebody jumping in front of a train – they do it right as the train comes in, so they don’t break their legs on the tracks and get ran over – they want to hit the train, so they do it at the last second. It was bizarre, because I went from, “Oh, they aren’t pulling out, that’s good” to “Oh Craaaaap!” really fast.
It was over, before I could even truly grasp that it was happening. That’s what I kept on thinking afterwards – that there was no real avoiding it, there was no real calculating it away. You have this urge to say, “Well, X Y or Z would have made a totally different situation, right?”
Well, I’m here to say that there’s such a thing as bad luck. And that’s really all it was. In the end, it doesn’t matter if the other driver was trying to cause a wreck, or they simply were thinking of other things, saw the light turn yellow maybe a little after it did, and panicked. I think the only reasons someone wouldn’t be paying attention to the intersection is if they were distracted by something else (thinking of Text Messaging or the bajillion other things a cell phone can do) or they just didn’t check to make sure the coast was clear.
That moment after impact is one I keep replaying. In movies you always get to see the full impact, but I blinked, and the next thing I knew it was over. The airbags had deployed, nasty smoke filled the car, things were hurting. It’s incredibly disorienting. It would be like if you were sitting in your living room and everything is fine and instantly all the furniture is turned over and it feels like you got beat up. ‘Instantly’ still sounds too slow.
So I started to do a POST (Power On Self Test) which is what computers do, but I think people do it too. I start moving my arms and I keep having this horrible anxiety that something really bad has happened to me or Sukie. My legs hurt, but not broken, arms not broken, lots of little cuts and pain on my right arm thought … I feel like I click my seatbelt and try to open my door, and I’m turning my head to look at Sukie and I hear myself talking to her and I sound like I’m drunk or something (lots of Adrenaline pumping at this point) and I’m like, “are you ok” and “there’s smoke in the car” and it feels like I’m saying and doing all of these things in fast motion and slow motion all at the same time. Sukie says to me “are you ok” and I say “I think so” and we both are looking around like “there’s smoke in the car … not good” so we get out of the car, or try to, I push my car door open, and this time it gives enough, while making bad sounds, and this is the first time that I’m realizing that I have really been in something unpleasant, there’s stuff ALL OVER the ground and I stumble and catch myself on the car. I make my way to the same corner as Sukie and turn to survey the damage.
Things are hurting and Sukie’s telling me my face is cut. She looks fine except her chest and neck are all burnt up by the airbag.
We declined a trip in the ambulance, which the EMT says afterwards, is good because the ambulance ride is “just for show”. I guess if I was unconscious it would be different. My father comes to get us and we wait for a while. We get a few things out of the car and get shuttled to InstaCare, and waited for 1-2 hours to be seen.
All in all, everything that swelled up, went down. I got some cool X-Rays that I’d like to post sometime, but luckily, nothing crazy showed up.
I feel fortunate, overall, for two things. The first one, is a selfish one – I am glad that I was hurt worse than Sukie. She got some scratches, I got a few more and a good lump around my left eye. I figure that’s where the airbag hit. Older airbags like that pack a wallop. I’m told newer airbags do a better job of cushioning the impact, but I have no intention of trying this out firsthand.
The second one, as you’ve noticed from reading this, is that the most interesting thing about the accident is that it happened. People must really like a good story because I get asked a lot, are you ok? I don’t really have an interesting response. I’m feeling a lot better than I thought I would. Yes, moving my neck hurts a little bit (by little I do mean it does not bother me at all.)
I do have an appreciation for car safety, and I’m actually less afraid to drive now.
That blink-and-you-miss-it thing is so strange, isn’t it? Every accident I’ve ever been in felt like that, even the ones that I saw coming but couldn’t avoid. It’s like the actual impact is downplayed in your memory because it happens so fast, and the next thing you know you’re looking at broken glass and smashed up metal. Even the where my airbag deployed, I couldn’t remember the airbag (I had a nice Ford emblem on my arm for a while, though).