The other morning, my husband called to tell me he had been in an accident. A thin layer of ice and snow unexpectedly blanketed the ground in Freeport and as he slowly approached his job site, he lost control and veered off the the road. As he coasted onto the shoulder, he held his breath while his carpool buddy turned his head and closed his eyes. When they finally stopped--inches away from a telephone pole, a tire had blown out on its bent rim and the right front fender was crushed. Poor guy spent his morning looking for a junkyard that had his rims in stock.
Later in the afternoon, I corraled the dogs into the back of the car and headed off on dry roads to get my hair done. As I sat in my hairdresser's chair, I noticed large, wet flakes begin to fall. By the time I left, the white stuff started sticking to the grass in the surrounding yards, but nothing covered the roads.
I stopped for some retail therapy, not concerned about the weather at all. When I emerged from the store an hour later, I tucked my head down to avoid the soggy flakes melting on my face. I was surprised to see that the parked cars had collected about an inch of slush, but felt reassured that the pavement was still clear.
"Let's go home!" I said to my waiting puppies, Jack and Lucy.
After a few miles, the snow got heavier and I had a hard time seeing. I slowed the old Mitsubishi down, savoring the beauty of the sparkling, slush-covered trees.
Mere moments later, the road changed from dry, black pavement to a white-ladened path with tire tracks running through it. I slowed the vehicle even more, holding the steering wheel tighter and feeling a pang of nerves creep into my awe-inspired peace. Darkness snuffed out the day as I noticed a line of cars in the distance with their brake lights glowing. And I decelerated to just a bit more than a crawl.
Within seconds, the SUV began to drift into the opposite lane. I removed my foot from the accelerator and tried to regain control of the vehicle, but it was no use. As the rear of the Mits started to pull, it felt like we were on an amusement ride--minus all the fun, of course. Feeling a lurch in my stomach I yelled to the pups, "Hang on, guys!" And we spun like the car of a Tilt-a-Whirl.
We went around twice and I think I may have closed my eyes while I braced for impact. I had visions of sailing through the woods, hitting trees on the way, and I wondered if this was it. Would the dogs and I be hurt--or worse? Then I heard and felt an explosive noise and as quickly as it started, it was over. We stopped spinning.
The car landed in a ditch by a telephone pole in someone's front yard. My first thought was that I was alive. Then I looked back and saw that my back window--the one next to my precious canine babies--had smashed to pieces and disappeared. My youngest pup, Lucy, immediately jumped over the seats and into my lap. Six-year-old Jack stayed put. He seemed stunned and I had to coax him to get away from the broken glass and into the safety of the front seats.
Since we were on a highway, I did not feel safe getting the dogs out to see if they were okay. And with high-heeled mules on my feet, I didn't think getting out onto the sloped, icy ground was a good idea either. In the darkness, my hands searched the dogs for injuries. They were dry and didn't cry, so I guessed they were unhurt. Then I looked around from the shelter of my broken automobile and saw that the back of my car had ripped out and rearranged someone's mailbox.
Next, I called my husband. I knew he couldn't help me because he was still on his way home from work. But I needed to hear his voice to feel comforted. A policeman arrived soon after, asking if I was alright and if I was the one who had called. I hadn't, and he quickly figured out that the call was for the accident further up the road. After making sure I was really okay, the officer told me to sit tight until he could return from the more serious mishap a few hundred yards away.
The man whose yard I landed in came out then and tried to help me get my car out of the ditch. But I was such a nervous wreck, I couldn't follow his simple directions. He finally took pity on me and maneuvered my car out of the ditch on his own. He refused to give me his name or phone number, and he said he didn't want my money or insurance information. He smiled and said that by wrecking his mailbox I'd given him something to do that night.
So yes, some people may think we are unlucky, but I disagree. Yes, we smashed our cars on the same day and had to pay for costly repairs out of our ever-dwindling bank account. But neither of us hit the telephone poles we'd headed toward, no one was hurt in either of our accidents, and we both were able to drive our cars home that day.
I say we are fortunate--very fortunate, indeed.