Posts tagged ‘car crash’

August 12, 2014

The Accident Manual

They say that there is time for your whole life to flash before your eyes, that the unfathomable depths of your inner self will arrange the Polaroid highlight reel while the life you know dissolves in slow motion. They say you can kick up your heels for the movie and only when the credits roll will everything be turned on its head.

But when the woman turns left across your lane without looking at you, there isn’t even time for ESPN’s Top Ten, although your next half-second could be on the Not Top Ten.

You can slam on the brakes and you can lay on the horn and you can even swerve, but on that one day out of every ninety when you take one seven minute trip without immediately buckling your seatbelt, it will not be enough. The absolute value of her poor driving is greater than your rating as an awesome driver.

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You might process the numbers and find some advanced stats to determine driving skill based on the road conditions and the defensive driving metrics, but it won’t prevent this.

Instead of plowing into her driver side door at full speed, cracking her spine, and catapulting yourself through your windshield, over her car, and onto the salt-stained asphalt, your braking, honking, and swerving will get the nose of your burgundy Corolla, your Mujer de Libertad, around the front of her car and she’ll accelerate through your engine compartment, knocking your whole vehicle into the emptying lanes of oncoming traffic. Relative to the street, you’ll continue forward, but relative to the car, you travel at a forty-five degree angle. Your forehead will knock aside the rearview mirror, and it’s compatriots of fuzzy dice, air freshener, and crucifix, en route to kissing the windshield.

You’ll fall back into your seat and realize that your car is pointed at an empty parking lot, so you’ll accept the open invitation. Your transmission will not shift into park, so you pull the handbrake and switch off the car. You’ll open the door and step out, intending to check on the woman, the back of whose head you could see as you swerved, when you realize there is warm, viscous fluid trickling down your cheek, clotting in and stiffening your beard. Your gloved hand will dip into the stream and return red. It’s probably best to sit back down. There is a widening pool of blood between your feet and with each consecutive drip there is a consequential splash that speckles your white DCs.

You’ll run by the spot a dozen times over next three months. The first time there is a surprising amount of sand piled about. The wind and rain will eventually clear away the sand to reveal the dark oil and blood stains.

The Good Samaritans will show up. One will be a nurse, one will be a big dude with a truck and a first aid kit, the one who calls 911 will be wearing a Sierra Nevada sweatshirt, which you’ll be sure to compliment. The other driver will stand by your shoulder, a wisp of twitchy nerves mumbling I’m sorry over and over. You’ve whacked your head enough in your life that, besides the blood, you feel fine. When she steps away for a moment, the big dude will confide don’t worry, bro, I saw the whole thing, it was all her fault. He’ll be kind enough to tell that to the cops when they show.

The EMTs will keep repeating the word mechanism. It will annoy and confuse, but that might be the loss of blood. You can’t see your own head, so you can’t see the chunks of glass embedded there. The EMTs will see the blood in your beard and ask do you have pain around your mouth? You will answer no, the little pain I have is all in my forehead. They will yell HE’S GOT NUMBNESS IN HIS FACE! You will protest Woah, I did not say that! Still, because of your mechanism, they are going to strap you to a board, complete with a neck brace, and cart you to the hospital.

There is nothing you want more than to be a good, easy, cooperative patient. You will crack jokes and ask about their days. You’ll ask if there’s been a more entertaining case that day. But really, really all you will want to do is move. Your claustrophobia is threatening. But before they will let you move they want a CT scan of your head and neck. They’ll take out your small gold hoop earrings and even though they put them in a bag so you won’t lose them, they will still get mixed up in your bedding and be forever lost.

The nurses will move you to another room to wait for the negative results, passing under the ceiling bubble mirrors in which you’ll notice your distorted reflection. Like a magnifying glass passing over you, first your feet will be enlarged, followed by your legs, and torso. Finally, your already imposing head will balloon by. It could be the cephalopodan cranium, or the rose hue smeared across the brow, cheeks, and beard, but the face that flashes on the bubble mirror is unfamiliar.

The nurses will manage to remove your oxford and jeans with minimal blood stains and no cutting, but the undershirt will get sliced, putting your tattoos on full display. Their religious nature will release one nurse to talk about her faith and you’ll reciprocate when you’re not clenching your teeth. The needle they use to numb your skull will feel like a 12 inch chef’s knife. You can’t imagine that the stitches could hurt worse unnumbed, but you’ll find out later they were scraping shards of glass out of the bloody abrasion.

You will like your doctors. They’ll talk beer. They’ll talk sports. They’ll talk trash. They’ll reprimand you and then empathize with you. They’ll warn you of the most intense, debilitative soreness you’ve ever experienced which is certain to come in the next couple days. It never does arrive.

Three days after the woman decided to not look where she was driving, you’ll go to the impound lot to clean out your car. Your first thought will be one of pride when you see the damage your head did to the windshield. That’s right; I did that. And I didn’t black out and I didn’t get a concussion. And you’ll never admit aloud that you have no right to be walking. You’ll find the scarf you were wearing, the one the EMTs unwrapped before fitting the neck brace, and it will be stiff with blood, having saved your oxford from the mess. You’ll find the review mirror casing, bereft of its glass, with the dice, air freshener, and crucifix a tangled mess.

The next month will pass in a wracking of nerves as you navigate the irregular alleys of adulthood. You’ll be receiving new medical bills every week for three hours’ worth of services. You’ll spend hours calling your car insurance, and your health insurance, and her car insurance, and the police, and the impound lot, and car dealership after car dealership, and the courthouse. You will shop for a new car. Your burgundy Mujer de Libertad was going to last forever. Now she’s dead. You’ll meet a silver Civic coupe named Mercy. She’ll be nice and technically an upgrade; you’ll take her home, but really all you want is your Mujer. All you really want is for everything to be over, for everything to be normal. And then, between applications of scar cream to the upper right corner of your forehead, it more or less will be.

Mujer de Libertad

Mujer de Libertad