Chuck (charlesofcamden) wrote,

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Not such a good day

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!

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