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Quill2

Not such a good day

Posted on 2005.12.31 at 02:49
Current Mood: A little shaky
Current Music: Born to Run - Springsteen
Today I learned, among other things, what it feels like to have an automobile airbag deploy onto one’s face. I was riding passenger and my roommate was driving. We were in medium to heavy traffic at about 4:30 this afternoon. It was drizzling; threatening to turn into snow or freezing rain at any time, and the heavy overcast made it look like nighttime. A man in a big fancy Ford blew through the stop sign on the side street and barreled right into the intersection. By all rights, he should have been hit by 3 or 4 different cars, but Fate decreed that only our Ford Focus should hit him this day. We had almost no time to react, and so we hit him, going perhaps 30 miles per hour. The hit was a direct 90 degree strike – the full front end of our car drove right into the passenger door on his car. I apparently cried out just before we struck him, but that cry was immediately muffled by the force of the impact and the airbag hitting my face. Although the driver and I were both wearing seat belts and shoulder harnesses, I have to tell you that I believe those airbags saved us from some serious hurt – 30 mph may not sound like much, but when you decelerate from 30 to 0 in a fraction of a second, you're in a very bad place. I can still see and hear the “Wham!” of our collision in my mind. I hope it will fade soon, as it is not a pleasant memory. We came to a stop and quickly inventoried ourselves to see whether we were injured and able to get out. The car was quickly filling with either smoke or steam, so it was plain that we had to get out of there if at all possible. The doors creaked and complained, but they did open, and we staggered out.

I don’t want to launch into a procedural about all that happened in the ensuing hour, but suffice it to say that it involved calling police and the insurance company; it involved emptying the car of our belongings, particularly since the car appears to be totaled and we may never see it again; it involved filing a police report and shivering in a darkened doorway while the police sat in their car, methodically filling out paperwork; and it involved dealing with the appalling indifference of the man who blew through the stop sign. He never once asked us how we were, nor did he offer anything resembling an apology, or even regret, about what had happened. When the police arrived, they had to get insistent that he stop talking on his cell phone while they were trying to interview him. He spoke with a definite Slavic accent of some sort, and his English was quite good when it was time to talk about his insurance, but it somehow became very limited when the questions about the accident got difficult for him.

The days to come will tell us a lot more about what’s going to happen with regard to insurance companies and determining the ultimate fate of the Ford Focus. For me personally, let me first state that it is about 10 hours since the accident as I write this, and I still don’t appear to be injured, though I’m told that I may be a little sore when I wake up in the morning. Based on how I feel at the moment, that seems plausible; I might even say likely. One additional factor that I had to deal with right away is that I had a performance of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding tonight, and I had to quickly determine whether I was in any kind of shape to do the show, physically as well as mentally. It must be said that I had a shock reaction to this accident that I had no ability to control. I could feel a sort of shock hitting me soon afterward, and a tumultuous progression of emotional and physical reactions were played out. They included wanting to run, wanting to cry, and even feeling as if I were going to hyperventilate. I think most of this had to be due to the jolt of adrenaline that doubtlessly shot into my system. I was still feeling some of those effects over 3 hours later during my show, and it had the result of making concentration a little challenging, particularly during long speeches. But I think I’m glad I went ahead and did the show. I think it was good to get right back into a familiar routine, as a counterbalance to the extremes forced upon me by the accident.

So that was my little ordeal. I’ll keep everyone posted on any significant developments, and I will wish this one wish for myself: that my New Year’s Eve may be far less eventful than my New Year’s Eve Eve!

Comments:


Meryddian
meryddian at 2005-12-31 17:12 (UTC) (Link)
Yikes! Glad you're ok hon!

What is it about guilty parties not wanting to take responsibility? Are they in shock over their own stupidity?

A couple months after I first got my license, and my parents had passed pseudo-ownership of a car on to me, I was driving to the next town over to get a perm. I was at the last intersection waiting to take a turn; it was a busy 4-lane major rural road, so the intersections all had protected left-turn lanes with left-turn signals that went first. I was in the front spot, and as a relatively newly-minted driver, I was ultra-careful-concious about my driving, carefully stepping on the gas when the light turned green.

Something caught my eye as I turned. Thankfully it was enough to give me pause; a woman blew through the intersection at 30+ mph and plowed through my front left fender. I was driving a 1984 Oldsmobile Tornado and I watched in slow-motion horror as my fender peeled back like a sardine can. The only thought in my brain was Dad is going to kill me. The entire - and I do mean entire - side of the woman's car was totalled. $3,200 damage to my car so I could only guess at her car.

The woman, who was probably late 20s, gets out of her car, looks at the wreck of our two cars, and starts screaming about, "My car! My car! My *brand new* car!" Mind you, this was October 1987 and her car was a 1985 model Skybird. (I knew this because it was the same car that our school used for driver ed, and that my friend Stacie drove). Obviously she thought she was going to guilt me out, but I'm looking at my car thinking, What the hell does *my* car look like, lady?

She tried really hard to get the cop who came make him think it was my fault for the accident. (Connecticut unfortunately has "no-fault" insurance, and some stupid idiot had told me to move my car - and the ONE thing my parents never told me, when educating me about accidents, was to NOT move the car til the cops came). The cop goes to me, "I'm 99% sure it was all her fault, but since you moved your car, I'm going to have to mark this as 'no-fault'." He was cool enough to mark his police report as such, so my insurance company actually didn't penalize me. (phew)

It's good that you went to T&T, although as a performance I'm sure it was tough to get through. Heck, I just went and had my perm, which means I got to sit in a chair for 3 hours, and I was shaking and edgy for that!

*hugs* glad you're ok!!
Meryddian
meryddian at 2005-12-31 17:13 (UTC) (Link)
Oops - forgot to note that what had happened was that the stoplight in the woman's lane had been out. So since she had "seen traffic moving in front of her" - instead of looking at the light in the other straight-on lane to check that light - assumed it was green and stepped on the gas. Brill-iant.
Chuck
charlesofcamden at 2005-12-31 21:24 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the good wishes! Yep, I'm a little sore today - functioning, but moving a little slowly. Still, nothing appears seriously amiss, so I'll count my blessings and move on (and boy, something like this really DOES make you count your blessings!).

As with your fender bender, time does seem to slow down in the moment before such an event. I remember that when it was apparent the collision was unavoidable, a series of thoughts flashed through my head, along the lines of "This car is going to be smashed, and maybe me with it. If I'm not hurt too badly, I'm still liable to be late for my show. Hell, I might miss the show completely because I might be about the break some bones. I hope Carmen doesn't hit the steering wheel. Wait, maybe he's going to get past us before we hit him. Nope. Shit! Here we go." I'm not making this up. Yeah, the first thing I thought of was my f**king show! If I didn't know it already, I guess this proves that I'm a performer at heart! Or maybe it proves that I'm a loony tune. Or maybe both.

As for these people avoiding responsibility, well, if it is my fate to be in any more auto accidents, I would like JUST ONCE to crash into a really nice person. On the other hand, a really nice person doesn't deserve to be in an auto accident, so maybe I should wish for an accident with a real jackass. Oh wait, that's what just happened! Sigh. I hope you'll be able to do better than popping the cork on a bottle of Pepto tonight. Happy New Year!
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