You live long enough, and you stay fairly mobile, you're gonna have some car wrecks. I hope none of them hurt you too badly. And I hope you didn't like that car more than you should have. It's just a way to get around, you know?
I drive a lot. My job involves about 20,000 miles a year. Thus, I've had so many wrecks, and had them on what seems like some sort of schedule, that I know when I'm overdue. I told my daughter I was overdue about six months ago.
As a result of all the wrecks, I've become a very defensive driver. I watch folks in my rear view and side view mirrors as much I watch the road ahead. My last wreck (before this) was a lady rear ending me with my daughter in the car, when she was about 7. It scared the dickens out of her. And it pissed me off, because the lady who hit us acted like it wasn't even her fault. We were parked in a line of traffic, standing still, and she topped a hill in her sturdy little BMW and smacked us going about 40 MPH. The jolt was so severe that my back still hurts now. But it was my little girl crying that sent me over the edge with this thoughtless bitch (a grade school teacher at a private school). I think I would have beaten her to death if there hadn't been others around.
Come to think of it, every wreck I've ever had that wasn't my fault (a couple back when I was a teenager were my fault, but none since) has been the fault of a woman driver. This cannot be just coincidence, can it? God bless you women, but let's face it: Many of you can't drive worth a shit. I blame your parents for not teaching you. My wife, bless her heart, has no idea what the little mirrors on the side of the car are for. Like cat's whiskers, I guess, for tight spots. I tried telling her once, but then I decided the marriage was worth more than the mirrors.
So, last night, my number was up. And it was the most unlikely of wrecks because it came out of the blue. That made it the scariest I've ever had, too. Usually you have a few seconds to prepare.
I was sitting in the dark and the rain at a stop sign, waiting to turn left into a busy divided highway. I looked to my right to see how it looked, then I looked to the left to see.... WHOA, SHIT!! Here was a GMC SUV about 10 feet from me, coming off a rain-soaked hill, and it was not stopping. It hit me just as cleanly in my driver's side door as if she had been aiming for me. I didn't even have time for my sorry life to flash in front of my eyes. And I'd been waiting on that one, too.
When the Jimmy made impact, my head immediately slammed into the window on the driver's side door. I'm just now feeling the real impact of that deal. I don't think I've ever had a real concussion before. It's sort of like drugs, except it hurts. And it makes you stupid(er).
At least the little girl who hit me in her big SUV was kind enough to not drive off, and to actually be concerned about the damage she'd done to ol' dannye. So, she and I spent half an hour last night, huddled under an awning nearby, waiting for the cops to come and do what they do.
She was a 20 year old who'd never had a wreck before. She was visibly shaken, but in a sort of masculine way; not crying or having a fit, just pacing back and forth, smoking a cigarette and saying, "I'm so sorry" over and over. Sometimes, she'd try to joke about how her insurance rates were going to go up and how she was hoping to do some other things with her paycheck next month. (She has no idea how much this is going to cost her, bless her heart.) She called her dad on my car phone.
I was in a sort of daze, thinking about how much worse this could have been. I am sincerely and honestly grateful for the little Japanese folks who designed the Honda Accord. The impact in the side was severe enough that, had I been in a Ford Festiva or some such shit, I think I'd be legless right now. As it was, the only damage I seem to have is this concussion. I can live with that. I wasn't too bright to begin with.
The thing I remember the most is the little girl, after a while, looking at me and saying, "I don't understand how you can be so calm. I'm still shaking like a leaf." For some weird reason, I thought of Sensei at that moment. I'm no Sensei. But I tried to imagine what he'd say.
I said, "You'll have more car wrecks in your life, if you grow old. I just hope none of them hurt you too badly." She started crying then.