The Paradox of Man

People are horrible.

People are amazing.

We do our big grocery trips once a month.  I make a list, check for coupons and sales, and organize it according to where we need to shop for specific items.  Usually Petey and I hit the Costco/Kroger portion together (I have a sneaking suspicion he goes along for the pizza or hot dogs in Costco’s snack bar).But there’s normally a few items we need from a shopping center that’s in the opposite direction.  Sometimes we go together, and sometimes I go solo, especially when it’s hot or the first part took a while.

Last week I left him home.  The plan was to finish at the hot bar at Harris Teeter, and pick up something for Petey for dinner.  Yeah, that was the plan.Right before the parking lot, there is a four-way stop.  I had waited my turn, then slowly drove into the intersection, to make a left.

What happened next was both in slow-motion and sped up tremendously.

A car came from my left and smacked right into me.

I saw him coming and knew that neither of us had time to stop or swerve.tree nature branch person plant girl sunlight leaf flower spring autumn child human christmas lighting season climb aesthetic out in motion country life climbing tree woody plantI’m a tree climber, always have been.  And if you climb trees, you’re gonna fall out of them on a regular basis.  When you fall, the nanosecond you spend in the air seems to become weeks.  And it gives you plenty of time to ponder.Just how bad will it be?  Will I end up knocking on the pearly gates?  Will I break one or more bones?  Or will I get off with just skinned palms and having the wind knocked out of me?

So, in that quarter of a second that was also, somehow, 90 minutes, I wondered how bad this accident would be.Surprisingly, it wasn’t too bad—for me and our eighteen-year-old Jeep.  Neither car was going very fast, and what could have been a much more serious T-bone was more of a glancing blow in the very front corner.

But the same couldn’t be said for the car that hit me.  The shiny new SUV looked like a deranged toddler had thrown a car made of Legos.  The tire was flat, there were leaking fluids, and car parts were strewn all about the intersection.I hopped out, prepared for the worst.

The other driver got out of his car, and what he said floored me.

“I am so sorry, it was all my fault.  I didn’t see the stop sign.”  Well, that was unexpected.  His name was Charles C., and turned out to be one of the last existing ethical, moral men.  His sincerity would make Diogenes weep with joy and set down his lantern for good.This nice man took responsibility with both the fuzz and his insurance company.  He even picked up the first day of the car rental before the paperwork went through.  He was just a really terrific example of a human.  And, it was the poor guy’s birthday.

So that was the amazing.

The horrible?Within two days of the accident I received numerous letters and post cards from ambulance chasing bottom feeders and slippery, creepy-looking chiropractors.  They all wanted to help me get rich off the accident.  They really didn’t care about the truth of the incident; and strongly implied they’d be happy to guide me through all manner of fraudulent scammery.

All I wanted was for the Jeep to be fixed, and temporary wheels while I waited for the repairs.  Sure, I’d love being rich, but I want to get rich the old-fashioned way, by becoming America’s Next Top Model. Thanks for your time.

Booms In The Night Part Two

To Read Part One, Click Here.

Nobody ever did let me see a mirror, but it must have been pretty scary, even after they stitched it up.I was sitting up in bed a day after the surgeries.  An orderly and family friend Ken, walked past my open door.  He hadn’t heard of my misadventures yet.

I raised my hand and waved.  “Hey Ken!”

He returned my hello, and walked out of sight.  And then I heard a strange, strangled yelp.  He spun around and walked back into view, his face as white as his uniform.

“What happened?!?”  I actually thought he was going to cry.  I ended up consoling and reassuring him.When I was released from the hospital, before Petey took me home, I made him take me to my savior’s house in Okisko to thank him.  And that’s where it gets a little weird.

It seems he and his family were a traveling band of Gospel singers.  He was supposed to be in Church that Sunday night.  He’d planned to be, he always was.  But, as he was getting in the car with his wife and kids to go, he stopped.  He didn’t know why, but he knew he had to stay home that night.  It would be the first time in many, many years that a Sunday evening wouldn’t see him in church.

But he was there, to help us, and keep us safe until the ambulance came.


The Kid and Riker, on our front porch.

My house now is on a road that has a twist and a hill at the same place.  Twice in the last ten years or so, late at night, there have been bad collisions out there.

Petey was doing another overnight at a hospital the first time.  I called 911 and ran out to do what I could.  The driver and passenger in the first car were hurt, but basically okay.  The other car was a different story.

The passenger was shook up, but also okay.  The driver was seriously hurt; best case scenario both his legs were just badly broken.  I told everybody the ambulance was on the way, then I crouched down by the injured driver and stayed with him until the paramedics came. light night evening darkness lighting attack screenshot ambulance assault supervisor emt ptsd paramedicLast night it happened again.  I pulled on my rain boots, told Petey to call 911, grabbed a flashlight, and ran out.  A car passing had been t-boned by a car that ran the stop sign.

One car had landed in my neighbor’s yard.  The other was still partially in the intersection.  The driver had exited, but the passenger side had been hit, and the woman sitting there had been hurt—her arm and shoulder were broken in at least two places, probably more.Petey came out and looked after one driver, a neighbor looked after the other, and I leaned into the car to talk to the woman.  I covered her with a coat, and gave her my hand.  I could tell by her chattering teeth she was trying to go into shock.  I tried to get her to slow her breathing, so she wouldn’t hyperventilate.  I held her hand, and told her I’d stay until the ambulance came.

But every second I waited, I thought of my own wreck.  And I remembered the fear and guilt and shame I felt.  And how my rescuer’s presence calmed me and made the whole nightmare easier to bear.

I will never ever be able to thank that man in Okisko enough.  So, holding a couple of very frightened hands is the absolute least that I can do.Thanks for your time.

Booms In The Night

The first one sounded like a boxcar was dropped from the sky.The second one sounded like a boulder hitting a washing machine.

I honestly don’t remember what exactly mine sounded like; but it was a car built of steel, versus a cast iron ditch culvert.  So, people in alternate universes probably heard that collision.

It was 1985, I was 21, and far too big for my britches.  Petey and I had been married two years, and were buying a little piece of land near Okisko, a tiny little community about ten miles from the bright lights of Elizabeth City.

This was 1985.

I was managing a clothing store at the mall, and after we’d closed up one Sunday night, I was kind of at loose ends.  Petey had an overnight shift at the hospital, and the only thing I had going on was a load of dishes waiting in the sink at home.  I asked my friend Robert if he wanted to take a ride in our recently purchased 240Z out to see the land we were buying.

He had even less going on than me.  So, we hopped in the car, turned south and headed for Okisko.On our way home I was trying to get a new station on the radio when the road in front of us curved to the right.

This is the car I broke that night.  A huge loss for mankind.

I didn’t.

Which is how the engine block ended up where the gas pedal had been mere seconds before.  And how my face bent the iron steering wheel into the dash.  Luckily, Robert just bumped his knee on the dash.

The driver’s side had partially buried itself into the ditch, so we climbed out the passenger side.  I climbed out fine, but when I got out of the car and tried to stand up, I found my right ankle had become something akin to wet cardboard.Not long after, another car came along.  It was a couple of kids and they asked if we needed help.  We would have said yes, please, but the man who lived in the house we wrecked in front of, came outside and said he’d take care of us.  As they drove off, I heard the passenger say to the driver, “Oh my God, look at her face!”

I must admit, hearing that was a tad unsettling.

It wasn’t these guys in that ambulance, but that woulda been cool as hell.

Our rescuer called an ambulance, and we sat in his kitchen to wait.  I called Petey and he let the E.R. know so they could call him when we arrived at the hospital.  While we waited, I started to wonder what the kids in the car were talking about.  I asked the home owner if he had a mirror I could use.  By this time I knew the problem was in my bottom lip area.  I’d also noticed a brand new, very pronounced lisp.

He and Robert looked at each other, then he told me no.  But, I kept wondering.  So when the paramedics arrived, I asked them if they could “fixth” it.  I swear, these guys could have taught a college level course in smooth.

His answer to my query?

Meat as a car, not meat in a car.

“I don’t know, did you find a piece of meat in the car?”

I shrieked, “A peeth of meat!!?!!”

It seemed my lip had ripped through, all the way down to where it attached to the inside of my mouth, like someone had cut it with a pair of scissors.

Illustration only, not my actual face.

The doctors sewed it back together (there actually was no errant “meat”, it just looked like a chunk was missing), and bolted and screwed my ankle back together.  The only lasting effects are an ankle that aches slightly in bad weather, two small scars on my face, and the inability to whistle or spit on a competitive level.

Thanks for your time.End of Part One- Tune in Next Week for the Exciting Finale.  Same bat time, same bat station.