Monday, January 21, 2008

Narrow Escapes

It's been a long week, but I'm glad to say 2008 is looking better than 2007.
On Tuesday, I was driving to work and a woman had spun out and come to a stop in the middle of the road at the bottom of a hill about a quarter-mile from my house. I was driving a big white van, and I started to brake as I crested the hill, so I wouldn't hit her. As soon as I braked, the van started skidding right, and I had a choice: I could hit a large pile of rocks, or a telephone pole. I chose (correctly, I think) to hit the rocks, because:
1. They would have more stopping power, right? And,
2. They were not attached to several live wires.
So we hit the rocks, but not fast enough to deploy the airbags, and my brother was sitting on a box between the two seats, so he didn't have a seat belt. He grabbed my arm in what I can only describe as a death grip, and he held on, which was smart because right at that moment, the van started to tip down a ravine.
I had never been in an upside-down vehicle before Tuesday morning, and I'd prefer if I didn't have to repeat the experience: it gives you so much time to think. I thought, "This is how I die," and then I had time to get angry that I was going to die on my way to work, a block from my house, on a Tuesday. And then I had even more time to register Nick still holding onto my arm, and the windows breaking, and glass just everywhere, and tools flying through the air. And then there was more time to think about how up wasn't up, and when we came to a stop, back on our wheels, I didn't know if we were right-side up, or if I was alive, or what direction we were pointed. But then everyone in the van, my brother, myself, and my coworker William, all started asking, "Are you okay?" and odd as it was, just the fact that we were all terrified and asking that was comforting, because if you can ask that, you're at least somewhat whole. Nick hit his head and his legs got a little beat up, and when we climbed out of the passenger door (the driver's side was completely destroyed), he laid down in the snow for a few seconds just to have solid ground underneath him. We got to the top of the ravine and began to survey the damage, and for some idiotic reason, I said, "I forgot to turn the headlights off."
So why, because of the totaled van, with its torn-off roof rack (our ladder was impaled by the telephone pole's guide wires and twisted the rack clean off) and shattered windows, does this year look better than last year? We all lived, and really we walked away from that with pretty minor cuts and bruises. If that same accident had occurred in 2007, we would have been maimed or killed, the van would have landed upside-down or worse, on its passenger door. Last year was bad luck, and this year, I guess, is near-misses. I'm okay with that, if that's the kind of progress we're going to make.

Currently Reading: The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

Currently Working on: "Pinball Wizards," a two-act play about Tesla, Edison, Pinball Machines, and Death Rays.

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