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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
30 Rock


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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

I Chose The Road Less Traveled And I Got Screwed

It was a day that started like any other day. I got up at 5:45 am. I made some coffee, took a shower and checked my email. I laughed as I watched the news of delayed openings flash across the bottom of my television screen. Delayed openings are good. You get to have half the day with none of the guilt.

So why did I laugh? I laughed because I knew better than to look twice. See, my district is not like other districts. Oh no. My district doesn't believe in delayed openings. Oh sure, we have a delayed opening procedure, but it's kinda like the fine china your mom keeps in the breakfront; it's there and it looks nice, but it's never been used. Regardless, delayed openings are given to days when the weather is bad, but not bad enough to warrant an entire day off. So I got in my car and headed off to work, slightly muttering about why I didn't work for one of those "other" districts.

The roads were fine or they seemed fine to me. Then I got onto the on ramp I get onto every morning to merge onto one of two highways I take to work. But as soon as I got on, I realized things were off. The ENTIRE RAMP WAS COVERED IN A BLANKET OF ICE. I had this realization at the same exact moment I saw the car in front of me start to lose control. So I did what any person driving on an ice rink behind someone who just almost skidded out would do.

I panicked and hit the breaks.

Now anyone who has ever driven on ice knows you really shouldn't hit the breaks. Of course, I wasn't even going fast to begin with. What would have happened had I not hit the breaks we will never know. Cause I did. And I did. Go. Spinning.

I've never been in a tailspin before but I'm here to tell you that all the cliches are true. A million things really do flash before your eyes and you also forgot all of them instantaneously so I can't really write about them all here. All I do remember was hoping I would stop and that it would be a good, 4-wheels-on-the-ground,car-still-on-the-same-road-and-not-slammed-

Luckily, I did stop and I immediately put the car in park, hoping it would stay there. At this point my car was half in the snow, half on the road. This wasn't the worst place to be, but it wasn't the best. The snow itself ended up being a lifesaver because it kinda held my car in place. The bad being I was still half on the road, a road, that I might remind you is surprisingly icy.

2 other guys who were behind me stopped right along with me. They (and their cars) were ok, but they were concerned about me, which was really, really nice. They also waited with me in the blustery cold until my dad (who was literally 2 miles away) arrived. One of the guys said it might be a good idea to move the car off the road but I was too shook up to drive and too afraid I'd push it off the road completely (there was a little drop off to the side where I was stopped)

Then the one guy said, "In fact, I wouldn't even wait on the driver's side of the car. I'd move over here." And so I did.

And thank God I did.

Suddenly I saw my life as one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books I read when I was a kid. Choose one page, you saved the princess, but you choose another page, and the princess is history. Really, when you think about, life is really one big Choose Your own Adventure book. We are making choices everyday, some that seem little, some that seem big, but no one knows in the long run what the seemingly small or big choices will bring down the road, no pun intended.

Within what had to be 3 minutes of moving from standing on the driver's side of my car to the other side, a car came barreling down the ramp. A big car. A RAM or some other monstrosity like that. It doesn't really matter. All you had to know was it was big, it was spinning and it was headed for my car.

Not knowing where big boy (or my car for that matter) would end up we ran cause even though we were on the other side of the car, mama didn't raise no fools. Pre crash my car needed at the most, probably 4 new tires. Post crash my car needs probably at the least, four new tires.

Now being that I am an accident virgin, I am by no means savvy in the ways of accident etiquette. Some people pointed out to me that I should have gotten information from the gentlemen that helped me because they are witnesses. Others said I shouldn't have brought my insurance company in it at all until I see if I could payout of pocket. But the police had already been called anyhow so that's a moot issue. Still I have to say, these are not the sort of things you are thinking about after an accident. At least I wasn't. Instead I was trying very hard to think about what all the things I should be thinking about and in the process, I came off like Hilary Swank that time she forgot to thank Chad Lowe at the Oscars. In other words, some might say I forgot to do the obvious.

So now comes the fun part. The car has been towed. As I write this I do not know yet what the damage will be. I do not even know what the insurance company will decide in terms of fault. There is a chance it will be no fault, but payout will be 50/50. I even have grand thoughts of damning the man and suing the state for not cleaning the road to begin with. A road, which, by the way I found out after the fact had been closed the whole night and only reopened right before I got on it, untouched by plows or salters. Or is that saltees? I know it's not saltines.

The worst part is just the reliving of it all. But of course, at the end of the day what I really am is lucky. I was lucky that the car spinning out of control didn't turn me over, spin me into oncoming traffic or off a ramp onto an entirely different road below. I was doubly lucky that I moved away from the driver's side moments before the other car hit mine. Someone at work (yes I went in, I couldn't just sit home and relive it)said I should go out and buy a lottery ticket. Someone else said I must have had a good guardian angel. All I know is that I really need to pause and be thankful for what I've got. Sure, cats may have 9 lives, but today I had two.



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