That Time We Almost Died

Flickr / Chris Dodson
Flickr / Chris Dodson

One time my mom and I got into a car accident of sorts. It wasn’t particularly violent or dramatic, it was just bizarre and one of those things after which you think, “Well, how often does that happen to a person, and what if, what if, what if?”

It was several years ago, when I was about 15 or 16 and we were driving home after something or other. We had just crossed a light and were making our way up hill when I noticed something and said, “Hey, mom, slow down, there’s a truck backing up.” And there was. It was one of those huge industrial things with a flat bed and that had to tie things down with wire and chain. A tow truck, I think, I can’t remember.

About half a second after I said that, my brain pieced together the evidence of my senses and came to a conclusion. The evidence was the angle of the thing, the slowness, the lack of any type of rear lights (it being night time), least of all, the bright white reverse lights and accompanying sounds that those types of trucks make when they back up.

So, in real time what happened was:

“Hey, mom, slow down, there’s a truck backing up.”

pause

“There’s no one driving that truck! —”

BAM!

Smashed right into the front of our car. We were far enough up the hill that it hadn’t built up too much speed yet, nor had it crossed to the other side of traffic. The windshield was trashed as the bed of the truck smashed right into it, and whatever metal bits were underneath scraped and dented the front end of my mom’s Volvo.

We got out and marveled at our bad luck. I took a picture of our car wedged under this thing for “legal purposes” and decided, after I’d taken it, to send it to Kelly who was mad at me for something I thought was trivial or whatever. Never let a good crisis go to waste, Rahm Emanuel said a couple years later, and I couldn’t be mad at him for it because I remember how sending that picture made Kelly forget she was upset and we continued on being happy together for a while.

I remember that after the thing hit, my body flooded itself with adrenaline and I jumped with the shock of it, suddenly squeezing the cup of hot cocoa I had in hand at the time, making it explode everywhere.

My mom spent a lot of time doing mom/driver things, i.e. wondering if the insurance would cover it, what car she was going to drive while this one got fixed, etc. An officer was on the scene and taking our statements and as he asked her if we were hurt, she looked at me and said something like, “Doesn’t your leg hurt?” and winked at me. It was a struggle for me not to laugh.

To tow the car away they had to pull it from underneath the truck, which sounds a lot worse than it was, and the actual sound of it was a lot worse than I expected. The scraping of metal, and further cracking of glass. I think I heard my mom say, “Damn,” under her breath and in retrospect I think it’s because every wrenching sound meant another dollar she might have to pay.

There were lights and witnesses and the truck driver showed up shortly after it happened and it was a nice spectacle for the passers-by, I’m sure, me texting all the while, glad that Kelly wasn’t mad at me anymore (“i’m so glad you’re okay! <3”), and wishing I were home because I was getting tired.

After a while, all the things that society calls upon you to do at such a time had been done, and mom and I got into the cabin of the tow truck we had called and it pulled our car the rest of the way up the hill and the rest of the way home. We got in and kind of exhaled in one of those, “Can you believe that?” kind of ways, and went right on with the rest of our lives. TC mark

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