October 18, 2006

When Tragedy Misses

Driving to work at my new job is a lot easier than when I used to commute fifty miles each way to the city. I don't have to pay tolls, cross bridges, and worry about traffic. No, my new drive is a breezy twenty minute jaunt which includes a stop at my local 7-11 for coffee and a newspaper. But it turns out the danger for getting killed remains the same.
Yesterday I turned my car onto the main highway to begin the first leg of my relatively short journey. I had the radio on, my brain was warming up, and I took notice of the clear sky and warm weather. The traffic light up ahead turned yellow and I slowed my car and stopped when the light turned red. Only, the guy in the pickup truck behind me had a different plan. He didn't brake at all until he was dangerously close to me. His pickup skidded, making a frightening skreetching sound, and he had to cut the wheel and continue jamming on the brakes along the shoulder of the road and into the intersection where he almost collided with another car.
In that brief moment when I stopped, looked in my rearview mirror and watched helplessly as a giant pickup truck nearly knocked my baby Honda across town like a golf ball, it dawned on me just how disposable I was. If he did indeed hit me, I'd have been roasted in a fiery conflagration. Pieces of my charred remains would have rained all over the inersection, and all before I had my coffee.
Needless to say, I was shaken up. The pickup driver pulled his truck over and probably checkd his underwear, and I rolled past him like nothing happened.
My morning ride seemed to take longer. Every turn of the wheel was a risky maneuver, the speed limit became a dare, and why the hell did everyone have to drive so damn fast? The rest of the day went fine and I forgot about my near accident with the inattentive pickup driver. That is until I got home and saw my kids. Like any other day I traipsed in through the front door like Robert Young and my wonderful children clamored around me anxious to tell me about school. I paused, took a deep breath, and stiffened at the sound of squealing tires echoing in my ears.

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