"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
Cheating the Reaper, Again
in-ter-rupt Function: verb
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin interruptus, past participle of interrumpere, from inter- + rumpere to break -- more at REAVE
1 : to stop or hinder by breaking in
2 : to break the uniformity or continuity of
3 : life, last night, 10:14pm
The Honda Civic spun off to my right with the full force of the impact, landing askew in the juniper bushes of a furniture store.
In an instant, I had gone from person-on-his-way-home-from-meeting to accident-victim.
I was driving home late, I had been to a meeting and had spent an extra hour or so chatting with a friend. Since traffic was light, I took a different way home than usual, and ended up on Broad Street, a four lane heavily traveled road lined with stores that runs the length of Richmond, VA.
I understand that this is the longest retail strip in the world, and it really is impressive. You can travel on and on and on and on and find hundreds of merchants and malls willing to take your money for all sorts of things. But last night, I was beat, and all I wanted to buy was some sleepy time at my house.
I hopped on to Broad from the interstate in my Jeep Cherokee. The street was pretty much deserted, seeing as how it was after 10pm on a weeknight. Those who had to go to work in the morning were already home or wherever they landed for the night, and those who didn't hadn't run out of steam yet and were still at their late night haunts. Everything was closed except for a few open-all-night gas stations.
I only had a few blocks to go, then I would turn off onto the road that would take me home. I looked at a gas station I was passing....the price was $1.53 per gallon. I idly wondered if that station was cheaper than the one I usually did business with. I looked ahead, expecting to see the sign for the Mexican restaurant where I would turn, I would see it any minut.....
BURGUNDY METAL, that's all I could see. It filled my field of view, way too close to be missed. I tried to hit my brakes anyway, but I hit the car before I could get the pedal pushed.
Someone had turned right in front of me, and there was no way I could have missed them.
The impact was horrific. I remember screaming tires as the car that I hit careened off the road from the force of the impact, across a side street that they had been trying to turn into, and up an embankment into a flowerbed on the far side. I remember the burned smell of my airbag going off and my detached wonder that it really DID work, after all, how neat. I looked and I still couldn't see the restaurant.
Amazing, how stupid your thoughts can be at a moment like that. I wonder if my last thoughts will be something noble, or something like "Whoa, so THAT'S what falling down the stairs feels like!"
Anyway, for a moment, I was stopped dead in the middle of the road, stunned. My seatbelt had prevented me from going through the windshield, but for some reason I was all wet...why am I wet? I did not seem to be hurt at all, no pain anywhere...
I got out and looked at the other car. The driver was motionless. I hesitantly went up to the car, hoping against hope that they were not dead or injured. It had been a violent impact.
It turned out to be a young girl. She was already on her cell phone, and had already called 911. Now she was on her second call, telling someone (who did not live in Richmond) to come immediately. (I found out later that this person was in another state, and had the presence of mind to then call the girl's roommate who was less than a block away, and who immediately came to the scene.)
I called my wife, "Honey, I've had a bit of an accident..." and she got out of bed and headed for the accident scene.
I realized my car was out in the middle of the street, and it was running, so I pulled it into the side street. It's hard to drive with a deployed airbag, by the way. Just in case you ever need to know that.
And why was I wet?
I realized that I had had a half of a Coke in my cup holder. On impact, it had literally smashed itself and the weight of it had torn off the cup holder. I was covered in Coke.
Even more amazing, in the back of my Jeep Cherokee, I had a case of Cokes. The impact had caused the entire case of drinks to burst out of one side of the box, yet the box had not even shifted position. That's how sudden and violent it was.
Fortunately, the worse thing that seemed to be wrong with the girl in the other car was that she was rattled and had lost her glasses. I got a flashlight and found her glasses for her, missing a lens which I could not find amidst the rest of the broken glass, and the police eventually called an ambulance to handle the shaken up part of it. Otherwise, I think she will be fine. (Note: Both cars, however, were total losses.)
It is always worth thinking about though, the fact that one instant you are driving safely down an almost deserted street, and the next the one car on that street could do something really stupid that could even cost your life.
We like to think that when we die we will have some time, at least a few moments, to "get things right."
Well, if you are thinking that way, I got one word for ya.
It can happen just that quick. You can be walking along and all of a sudden "Oh, hi, God. Nice place you got here."
Make sure you have an invite to the party.
And drive safely.
When anyone asks me how I can best describe my experience in nearly forty years at sea, I merely say, uneventful. Of course there have been winter gales, and storms and fog and the like. But in all my experience, I have never been in any accident... or any sort worth speaking about. I have seen but one vessel in distress in all my years at sea. I never saw a wreck and never have been wrecked nor was I ever in any predicament that threatened to end in disaster of any sort.
E. J. Smith, 1907, Captain, RMS Titanic