I am accident prone. No, I’m not overly clumsy (just regular clumsy). I don’t have bruises over 30 percent of my body and I haven’t fallen down the stairs lately. But I do seem to have an invisible (to me) target on my back or forehead or somewhere on my person that is a magnet for traffic accidents.
In February 2011, I was driving to the ski hill along an icy highway in dodgy visibility when a poorer driver than I am hit a patch of ice, overcompensated and steered right in front of me. Considering I was travelling at more than 80 km per hour, I didn’t have much of a chance to save myself. So, WHAM!
Despite braking and trying to steer away from Ms. Bad Driver, I rammed into her, and then sheared off ten posts of the highway guardrail. We careened into the median, coming to rest with the former nose of my car inches from the guardrail of the lane going in the opposite direction. I say “we” because my ten-year-old (at the time) daughter was in the passenger seat. “Were we just in an accident?” she asked, as the car hissed to rest and sighed its final death rattle.
That car was a write-off and, through both no-fault and the other driver’s insurance, we had to replace it. After much research, debate and haggling with Jerry Lundegaard down at the car lot, my husband and I finally found the right car at the right price. For a while I missed my old car. There had been nothing wrong with it and I’d liked it. RIP little Nissan.
The following year—this would be the winter of 2012—I was travelling home on the bus. I work downtown and take the bus to the office. I figure, let someone else worry about traffic, weather, and if there’s a hockey game scheduled for that night. One of the perks of taking the bus, because I don’t suffer from motion sickness, is that I can get some reading time in. So, on this particular weekday afternoon, I was blissfully reading away when the bus suddenly braked, crashed into something (WHAM!), swerved and scraped its left side all along the cement wall of the dedicated bus lane. This seemed to go on for hours but probably lasted less than a minute. I got thrown to the floor, where I scraped my tender buttocks. In the ensuing silence, passengers began moaning, rising to their feet, brushing themselves off, and asking each other if they were all right. Thankfully, most of us were okay.
We disembarked and waited for another bus. Meanwhile, rush-hour buses were backing up along the transitway in both directions in unprecedented numbers. Finally, a bus arrived to take the crash victims, not home, as one might expect, but down one stop so we could climb up out of the transitway to street level and wait for a bus with hundreds of other re-routed and disgruntled passengers. With my sore back and scraped buttocks, I had to stand on a crowded number 61 for an hour to finally get to my car at the Park & Ride lot. Poor show, OC Transpo.
Which brings us to last week: March 2013. I was again driving to a ski hill, alone this time. I was on my way to watch my now-thirteen-year-old daughter compete in the provincial alpine ski championships (she’s a helluva skier and I’m helluva proud of her). As I drove through a green light (it was green, as green as green could be; Kelly green, bottle green, green as Ireland and envy) another car came barreling through the intersection in the opposite direction. In that split second before impact, I recall looking up at my light (GREEN) and his light (RED). And then: WHAM!
Mr. Bad Driver (perhaps a relative of Ms. Bad Driver from two years earlier) T-boned my car. My side airbags came ballooning out to cushion my head against the driver’s side window. (Did you know that when airbags explode, it smells like smoke?) Again, my poor, damaged car came to rest. Again, I wasn’t seriously injured. But again. Again? Really!? I cried, bawled, beat my fists against the steering wheel. AGAIN?! A nice man opened the door and asked after my well-being. A good question considering I’m sure I appeared quite hysterical.
An ambulance, a fire truck, a tow truck and a police car arrived. Sirens wailing, lights flashing. Three very nice people waited in the cold to tell the nice police officer that it wasn’t my fault. At all. I thanked the witnesses at the time but wish I’d been able to do more for them. I wish I’d had three bouquets of flowers and three boxes of chocolates I could have given to those lovely, generous people.
My car is now languishing at the collision yard awaiting assessment. We’re not sure if it’s fixable or another write-off. I missed my daughter’s afternoon ski race. I have a rental car that’s so big it won’t fit in my garage so I have to park it in the driveway. It snowed a foot overnight.
I’m supposed to feel lucky. And I do. I’m not only alive but not injured in any way, beyond generalized soreness that heals in less than a week. It’s an odd kind of lucky, though. Sometimes, thinking about people who aren’t in at least one traffic accident each year, I feel less lucky.
When I finally get my car back—or a new car as the case may be—if I offer you a ride anywhere, say no.