Ryan told me that it had been snowing, so I’d want to leave myself some extra time to get to school. When I went out to start my car, I realized that by “it’s been snowing” he meant “you need your snow boots” – we got some SERIOUS weather. School wasn’t canceled though, so I was off to Nampa.
The roads didn’t seem bad in my neighborhood, but as soon as I hit real roads I realized that they were slicker than they’d appeared. I figured that once I got on the highway I’d be okay – after all, the highway usually gets cleared up more quickly than the rest of the roads.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that the highway wasn’t in very good shape, either. Fortunately, westbound has low traffic in the mornings, so I decided I’d just take it easy and drive nice and defensively all the way in. Unfortunately, the idiots around me didn’t seem to think that was a good idea. I was driving at a safe speed for the conditions; other drivers were tailgating me, blinding me with their high beams, flipping me off, and zipping around me at 50-60 mph. The worst aggressive driver was so bad that I wanted to call the cops on him, but his license plate was completely covered with snow. Go fig.
So I’ve got the stereo off, I’m in the righthand lane, going maybe 35 on the highway, being as safe as humanly possible – and suddenly, it’s like my car just got picked up and set on a sideways moving track. I start sliding sideways, across traffic, and nothing I can do is doing a thing to stop or straighten myself out.
I don’t know when I’ve ever been so scared. I was in a relatively bad wreck once before, and I remember the moments after the impact – the car spinning and lurching to a stop. I don’t remember the milliseconds before impact. This one, though – I had time to be scared. I was painfully aware of the cars behind me that I was crossing in front of, totally out of control – and worse, I was very, VERY aware of the eastbound lanes of the highway – lanes packed with commuters, right in the path of my slide.
I’m sorry to say that I didn’t think of family, home, friends, work, or any of the things I’d be leaving behind. Mostly I just thought that I was going to die, and I didn’t want to die, and I thought about how much it was going to hurt when one of those semis hit me. I was scared of the pain. Like, teary-eyed scared of the pain. (And still am, just writing this.)
Thank God, this is what happened instead:
That piece of highway is (hypothetically) under construction – which is probably how I slid in the first place. The pavement is rough, and when you hit an uneven patch it kind of throws your car. I figure I hit one of those spots hidden under an icy spot, and away I went. Anyway, because it was under construction, there were temporary concrete barricades put up between the westbound and eastbound lanes. As I slid across the highway, I saw the barricades and turned into the skid, and my car turned just enough that I hit the barricade with the corner of my fender instead of head-on, and I bounced off and skidded to a stop, almost as if I’d meant to park there on the shoulder of the highway.
I was shaking so badly that I couldn’t think. I think I said “oh my God” about a hundred times. (Ryan, now you know that that’s apparently just what I do when in a state of shock.) Then I asked the car what I was supposed to do, whether I was supposed to call the cops or what. My car didn’t respond, so I started looking for my phone, but my hands were shaking so badly that I couldn’t find it. About that time I realized that if I could slide across the highway, someone else could, too, and so now I just started begging the rest of the highway not to slide into me.
Then I finally found my phone, but couldn’t dial. Just about then a police car pulled up on the other side of the median. (It turns out he’d been called out by another car, depicted in pink above, that had driven into the ditch. But it was a white car in the white snow, and he didn’t see it, so I got helped while the person who actually managed to call dispatch had to wait another 20 minutes for a second cop. Sorry, white car in ditch. I didn’t mean to steal your cop.)
Oh, and I cried, too. As long as we’re in True Confessions time, here.
So the cop wanted to know if I was okay, and we looked at the car, and he took my license and registration and everything. Which, y’know, was cool, because yesterday was not only my birthday but my license-expiration birthday. So I had an expired drivers’ license. And he called a tow truck, and he gave me a ticket for driving too fast for the conditions. Even though, as I told him (and you, just a minute ago) I was the slowest thing on the highway.
Casualties so far:
- front left corner of car
- one school day
- my mascara
- my spotless driving record
- about 5-10 years off my life (and considering Texas took 5-10 off the other day with that last-second field goal, I now have an expected life span of about 45 years – which is 16 years more than I thought I was going to have this morning)
It took me half an hour to get anyone to answer the phone at work, but I finally reached someone who was able to arrange for a sub and jot down some sketchy lesson plans. If the sub follows them, and if the kids cooperate, they shouldn’t get too off schedule.
It took almost an hour for the tow truck to arrive. The police officer stayed with me until the truck arrived, and he offered to let me sit in the back of the car, but I decided that was absolutely the last thing I needed, especially considering that our double one-car accidents were drawing the attention of news crews. The first to arrive was Channel 6, and as I was sitting in my car feeling sorry for myself, I realized that the dude filming my bad morning was mi amigo guapo Eric. So I got out of my car and he gave me a trademark lift-off-the-ground hug, and that made me feel a little better. Also, he said he wasn’t going to put me on the news. That made me feel better, too.
So the tow truck finally got there, and he didn’t want to take the car home, but he eventually did take us home, and then he dumped the car facing the wrong direction on the road for some unknown reason, and charged an arm and a leg, but hey – that’s what credit cards are for, right?
I started to realize that I was going to be sore a couple of hours ago, and now I can tell for sure that I’ve got some achy pains, but all things considered – it’s all okay. I was wearing my seat belt, and although I bumped my head on the window it wasn’t hard enough to even hurt at the time. My fingers are a little sore where they gripped the steering wheel, and my torso muscles are beginning to complain after no doubt clenching up into a futile attempt to preserve my important bits, but I’m fine. And there’s some possibility that my car will be okay, too, if we can get the fender off of the tire.
Doesn’t even look that bad, does it? Thank goodness for sturdy cars and for not driving too fast. And thank God for concrete barricades.