Sunday, July 10, 2005


I took a mini-road-trip on Saturday to meet my new niece.

On the way back, twenty miles from home, I found my right lane turning into an exit-only lane, and put on my blinker to move left. The big van to my left graciously slowed to provide a gap for me, so I glanced over my shoulder to make sure I had enough room and began to move left, waving my thanks. As I eased into the lane, though, I happened to glance left again; to my horror, a car two lanes to my left had decided to dart into the same gap and apparently hadn't seen me. I instinctively swerved right to avoid a collision

and my view of the road abruptly yawed back and forth as my car lost traction and fishtailed across the right lane. I tried to steer through it, but after a few seconds of swerving I lost it and spun once, twice? which way am I going?, rubber burning, bracing myself for a collision, smacked into the guardrail (oh my neck that's gonna hurt), spun again, slowed now, bumped off the guardrail again and came to a rest facing the freeway with me on the side of oncoming traffic aw fuck I'm about to get pulverized dead on.

But my car was almost completely on the shoulder, just the nose of the car barely jutting into the right lane, easily avoided by traffic that continued to whiz past, uninterrupted. I jammed the key forward and the car started instantly, so I pulled it all the way onto the right side of the shoulder and turned it off again.

I sat there shaking for a few seconds, moving all my limbs, unable to quite believe that I'd apparently hit nobody else, nobody else had hit me, and I wasn't, I don't know, on fire or something. A white car had pulled off behind me, and I waited for a break in traffic and bolted from my car to meet the black woman driver who was now running toward me. "Girl, are you okay?" she asked. "Somebody hit you, it looked like!"

"No," I said; "I'm okay but I don't think I got hit." We inspected my car together, finding a gash in the front bumper where I'd hit the guardrail hardest and another in the back bumper. (She kept finding additional tiny damages, but I had to keep saying, "No, that was already there, it's just an old car...")

"I can't believe nobody hit you!" she exclaimed after we'd looked at the whole car. "God was really looking out for you!"

I didn't respond to the God thesis (although I seem to be just enough of an obstinate ass that even at that moment I thought, "Hm, so God didn't give a shit about everyone else who died today?"). I just nodded and asked dazedly, "Can I hug you right now?"

She laughed and hugged me. I thanked her again for stopping, and we got back in our cars and drove away. And that was it.

My neck hurts like fuck today, but, well. I'm lucky to be alive to have an aching neck.

I've always hated driving on the freeway, and had a deep dread of meeting a bloody death on the pavement. This is actually the second time I've been spun on the freeway without colliding with another driver, although I was a passenger the first time, nine years ago. I'm sure this latest accident will be a big help in improving my paranoia. What, the third time is going to be Death's charm? Fan-fucking-tastic.

Seriously, I have enormous gratitude to that lady for stopping. And to everybody else for the defensive driving skills that apparently allowed them all to avoid me while I was spinning across I-5--well, thanks.