Sunday, February 6, 2011
It Happened #19
Well it happened! And, it happened Tuesday! Not last Tuesday but it was a Tuesday.
It is really quite sad, as I had such high hopes that I had moved beyond such nonsense. I guess it was not to be.
Did you notice that last sentence with its trace of denial? The words, “I guess….?” Nope there is no guessing, it is now in the record book and there is no taking it back.
It was later than normal when I stepped outside to start my drive home. To my delight and surprise the darkness had hidden the snow storm. Snow was falling steadily and already the area was blanketed with over an inch. Even at night I don’t think there are many prettier things than a hemlock draped with fresh snow. An hour ago there had only been the promise of the weather man but now the white magic had appeared and was reflecting a sweet illusion that the world had become pure, clean, and for a time the promise of peace would surround us mortals.
The sound of my tires rolling across unblemished snow toward the street was pure delight. I love the snow and I love driving in it. When the snow is fresh, the road noise is almost none existent. It brought back feelings of a past time when as a young teen I took a long walk one night in fresh snow. It was just me and my German Sheppard, Cyrano. We walked with no goal in mind but we walked for hours and nature was balm to my soul that night. Exactly where we walked I cannot remember but that night has left in me a wonderful memory of a peaceful respite from the teenager insecurities I carried.
Driving across town toward the freeway, the snow continued its recital with large heavy flakes peppering my windshield. The temperature was just a mite below freezing and as normal, I was feeling an exhilarated peace. Exhilaration and peace from the outset would seem to be in conflict with each other but both are delightful. Intentionally, I had left the radio off not wanting to miss a moment of my night time drive.
As I merged on to Interstate 5 I picked up speed matching the traffic. Even though I still love this part, tension began to build. I had not really figured out where the sweet spot was for driving in these conditions. Over passes lurk with ice and can put one into a spin quickly. I began to feel comfortable cruising along at 45 miles an hour. Occasionally I had to move out of the slow lane to pass those who thought 35 or 40 was the right speed. Of course I couldn’t stay there because there were those folks who felt comfortable at 50 plus miles an hour and want by.
The miles were ticking by at a comfortable pace. I had eased away from the pack and was now in a comfort zone with no other vehicles close. Up ahead was another bunch of cars and the pack behind pushed me on, closing the gap. The thought crossed my mind, ‘why were there were so many cars on the road at this time of night, in one of Seattle’s somewhat rare snow storms? No answer jumped to the surface. Snow doesn’t change peoples thinking, they still believe they have people to see and place to go. After all I had just seen my people and was now heading home.
I was about half way home when several hundred yards ahead I saw a car spin out, I eased off the gas. My speed slowed to around 35 miles an hour as I approached. He had stopped far off to the left but was perpendicular to oncoming traffic. As I grew closer my stomach tightened when he began to move, heading directly across the freeway, crossing the 4 lanes hidden by the snow. He was coming directly into my line. Stopping was out of the question, so I eased over to the right hoping to make it around him before he reached my line of travel. I had almost made it when his front bumper hit the rear of my truck sending my back end swinging to the right. I quickly turned to the right, compensating. My truck began straightening out. Now my rear end began heading left and picking up speed, cranking the wheel back hard to the other direction was too little too late. My truck ended up going backwards with my headlights facing oncoming traffic. I hit the brakes and eased to a safe stop on the right shoulder.
This is the part I hate, late at night, exchanging information with another person, who is also hating every minute of this. No one was injured, only my truck was damaged, calling the police would have been a waste of cell phone minutes. It would have been hours before someone would have come, if at all. I knew they had real problems to attend to. The whole episode was a bit of an adrenalin rush but mostly just an inconvenience. The other driver felt the same as I about the whole situation. So, within 10 minutes, information had been exchanged and I was turned around heading home. All in all the drive was all what I had hoped for except for the interruption and another dent.
With accident number nineteen behind me and my allocation card punched, I can drive stress free knowing number twenty is a few years off.
One thing nice about driving a 28 year old truck; what’s another dent? Who really cares? Not me.
That night I went to bed with the softness of snow lightly falling and wishing I had a dog to take on a long walk. The next morning I awoke, the quiet was gone and in its place was the banter of rain assuring me the Pacific Northwest was back to normal. Our peaceful interlude had been way to short but I was glad it came, if only for one evening.
Here is the good news. The insurance company paid me $146.00 more than I paid for the old truck 4 years ago, and I get to still drive it. How good of a deal is that?
Number twenty, where are you?