Monday, August 2, 2010

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

It’s been a busy few weeks.

So I was driving home and I got caught in the rain, one of those waterfall-down-the-windscreen downpours. Couldn’t see a thing, including the road flooded at the bend up ahead. 

That’s right, at the bend. 

Of course, I hydroplaned right off the road. Missed the telephone pole, but plowed right through the pole’s grounding wire. Did a number on the radiator and kicked the left wheels up in the air. My wing mirror popped as it hit the asphalt and I slid to a stop at the edge of the road resting on my door.

Relax, I’m okay. The air bag never popped. I never even felt a tug on my seatbelt. I was fine, perpendicular but fine.

It took me a minute before I thought to switch off the engine, to turn off the radio, to figure out my next move. I shoved open the passenger door, popping up like a tank commander, and waved to the cars behind me, letting everyone know I was okay.

The rain was still bucketing down, and I was pretty shaken up. I stood at the roadside, a bit lost and a lot confused. Some of the other drivers got out to lend a hand, to check on me and help me tip the car back off the road and onto its wheels. One gentleman gave me a lift back into town and got me home safely. 

I have no idea who any of you are or how to reach you, but thanks.

Once the emergency was over, once we got past the “thank God you’re alright,” then we had to deal with the aftermath: towing, scrapping, replacement. 

Pain in the hole all round.

When I came back later, the car started just fine, but it was never going to move again. What had once been a fuel-efficient little runaround had become a very large paperweight with a built-in radio. I was suddenly the proud owner of a car shaped box of car parts.

It took two weeks to get mobile again. Two weeks of calls to gardai (that’s cops for all you Americans), mechanics, insurers, and dealers. 

Two awkward weeks of walking everywhere, starting with the scrap yard – I had to collect all our bits and pieces left in the car: shopping bags, spare change, sunglasses, the road atlas, the booster seat and a blanket left behind after our last picnic. 

Two weeks of walking for errands, of dodging raindrops and shopping with a backpack, of walking slowly for younger feet when we went out as a family. 

Finally, we have wheels again, and we’re settling back into our routine.

It could have been a lot worse. I kept the speed down because of the weather and I had my belt on, but even so, if I’d hit the telephone pole instead of the wire, I’m pretty sure I’d have felt that. Even the fence behind would have done more damage. I came away addled, but without a single bruise or scratch. The soaking I got climbing out of the car probably did me more harm.

Still . . .

Discounting the odd parking lot fender bender, this was my first crash. I’m not sure what I expected, but the experience was underwhelming. One second I was driving, the next I was in the very same position, only on my side.

I think my exact words were “Hmm. Okay.”

I’m not wishing for more trauma or grief, but I was expecting . . . I don’t know. Something. There should be some pay off for all that noise and adrenaline. It’s a bit like coming away from a 3-second rollercoaster with no hills. Or a Matrix sequel.