Life changes. It’s what it does. We change with it or we don’t… and therein lies the choice. Please note: it is a choice. You may not like the selection of possible options, but it genuinely is always a choice. Not choosing is also choosing.
My own life took a rather unexpected turn last Monday when I fell asleep while driving my car. Please note–I am fine. Not a bump, not a bruise, not a scratch, not sore. Embarrassed, dismayed, grieving over the first accident I ever had that was my fault, but physically, I’m fine. The car is not fine.
I’ve just erased three paragraphs of painful research outcomes on insurance company payouts for used vehicles that they consider “totaled.” It won’t come as a surprise to most that the chances of getting anything even vaguely close to what we paid for it just six weeks ago range from slim to who-the-hell-are-you-kidding. Erased another paragraph on the wisdom of always keeping full coverage (we did), another on always wearing your seatbelt (I did), and you’re welcome. Thus endeth the lecture for today.
Back to the mea culpas–I just didn’t keep myself awake. Oh, I tried–loud music, windows open on a frigid day, munching on crackers–and I was only ten minutes from making it safely back. A lot of people would say “pull over, take a nap!” Doesn’t help. As soon as I pull over, I’m awake. As soon as I start driving again, I get sleepy. Most other people I’ve spoken to say the same. The only mitigation was that it was at least in the one vehicle I’ve driven regularly in the last five years that would keep me safe. The SUV I used to drive would have most likely rolled. The Town Car stayed low and just spun. It’s a tank, bluntly, with a low center of gravity.
All the mea culpas aside, I am most relieved no one was headed toward me on the two-lane road where I took a nap at 75 mph. (Cruise control is a mixed blessing.) I’m not sure I could have forgiven myself for causing someone else’s pain or even death through my mistake. I am incredibly grateful that did not happen.
No, I won’t be posting pictures of the wrecked car. Yes, I’ve got them. No, I won’t send them to you.
- They say your life flashes in front of you–not true for me. My thoughts were gone completely, drowned in adrenaline and my physical attempt to place the entire weight of my body on the brakes of that car.
- Prior to the accident, I would have told you that I believed I could make rational choices in emergency situations: “Keep your foot off the brake, steer into the skid.” Huh.
- They say time slows down. Only in retrospect. The accident was honestly over in what felt like microseconds. The echoes of my top-of-the-lungs cussword were still running laps around the inside of the car when it shuddered to a stop.
Aftermath and Choices:
- Until the decision is made on whether the car will be fixed or totaled, we can’t go out and buy a replacement. While we will get the choice eventually, we just can’t make it yet. Would be stupid to have three vehicles if they decide to fix that one.
- Doesn’t make sense to run the expense of a rental car when my need for a vehicle is pretty much limited to a post office run once a day, laundry once a week, and intermittent grocery shopping. Nonetheless, stuck in the RV, six miles out of town, it is an incredible pain in the ass to not have a vehicle. Just saying.
- I have to decide whether this is an isolated incident… or if I must choose to never drive again for more than hour or so when I’m by myself. I don’t have to make the choice yet. But I will have to make it. To say that it limits my freedom, in West Texas, where you’re pretty much two hours from anything, is really underestimating how claustrophobic this makes me.
This is two Decembers in a row with life-threatening incidents. Six days from now is the anniversary of that surgery to repair a strangulated hernia. There are a lot of other choices I have to make over the next year, I’m sure–but the decision for next December is already made.
I’m putting my head under the cover December 1, and will come back out again in January.