Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Accident

A week ago Thursday, I was in a car accident.

Driving home from Seattle, I was taking the exit off I-5 onto Highway 540. If you're familiar with the area, you know that to make that exciting move I had to enter a one-lane tunnel that was engineered to be a downward-sloping blind curve.

It was in the tunnel I saw it -- a crumpled car, crushed against the cement wall. I braked and swerved and managed to avoid the vehicle.

"Thank God," I breathed... just as I was hit from behind by another driver.

The back of the driver's seat thumped my head forward as the sound of shattering lights and crunching metal echoed in the tunnel. I sat stunned for a moment. The driver pulled alongside me.

"Are you okay? Can you move?" he yelled.

I nodded. "I think so!" Realizing that staying still was only going to result in a dangerous pile-up, I motioned that I was going to try driving out of the tunnel. As I did, it hit me:

The tunnel leads to a bridge. The bridge has nowhere to pull over. This guy could easily drive off into the night, and I had no name, insurance policy number, not even his car's tags. There was nothing I could do to keep him from speeding off into the night.

Instead, he drove slowly behind me across the span of the bridge and to the first exit. We exchanged information, and he asked if I knew how to get home. I confessed I didn't know where the next entrance to the highway was, so he looked up directions for me before I drove off.

And then I got pulled over for a broken (let's face it -- smashed to bits) tail light.

I explained to the police officer that it had only been broken for about 15 minutes, and I was on my way home. He was very kind, but still had to run my license. While he was in his car, a truck pulled over in front of me and out stepped my unlikely friend. He walked back to the officer and explained he'd rear ended me.

On his way back to the car, he said he didn't want me to get a ticket on top of getting my car bashed. I thanked him and said I hoped the rest of his night went better, and in an attempt at cheerfulness he said, "It can't really get much worse."

But it could've been. I thought back over all the nights that had been worse than a car accident with no serious injuries. I thought of the inches and fractions of seconds that could've made that night one where someone didn't make it home.

I also thought of all the opportunities that young man had to escape. He had the opportunity to run from his responsibility. He could've chosen to do the wrong thing and thank his stars I didn't have any recourse. Instead, he chose to do the right and good thing, even when it cost him something.

It might not seem like a big deal, but in the past year I've had a lot of people choose easy instead of the hard thing that was right. How the consequences of their choices affected people like me wasn't as important as saving their own skin or priorities or story.

To me, it seemed a given that would happen again.

I am so thankful. Not for the accident itself, of course, but for the reminder that there are good people who see beyond themselves. I thought maybe they'd all disappeared.

I'm glad some are still around.


Anonymous said...


christianne said...

What an incredible story!

As I was reading it, I was struck by the same thing you shared at the end: his willingness to stick with you, make sure you were okay, get where you needed to go, not let you get a ticket. How amazing.

I'm glad you're okay.

CaJoh said...

You are absolutely right— there are not too many people who go out of their way to assure your safety.

So glad that you are unhurt.

Sizzle said...

There are good people out there. Thank goodness he was one of them! I am glad you weren't seriously injured.

kanishk said...
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Sara said...

Lady, you're making me nervous.

Is this a brand new incident that took place in your car? I feel like you had another one not too long ago where your car stopped working. Am I hitting the juice too early in the day?

I'm always thankful for good, kind people and I'm very grateful on your behalf that you got hit by one. I mean, sucks for him because he sounds like a good guy, but he was probably also happy that you weren't really mean to him.

So glad you're okay.

amelie522 said...

This post served as a reminder to me as well, that people out there can still surprise us, and do the right thing. Even when it's not beneficial to them, even when it actually costs them money. So thank you for sending out this little reminder to the world. We all need it.

Christina said...

Thanks, everybody, for glad feelings that I'm okay. It still hits me how fortunate I am... even when I'm sitting in the chiropractor's office looking at my X-rays.

Sara: yes, different accident. I'd just gotten my car fixed and had it back for a week.

Anonymous said...
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Deb said...

I love this story, and am so glad you are okay!

I have to ask, though. Was he cute? :)

Christina said...

Hahaha... Deb, I'd be asking it, too. He was cute, but I saw his driver's license... far too young for me.

Which was kind of sad, since I'm not ready to have to actively avoid cougar territory, but it looks like I have to.

Within range of my younger sister, however, and it *did* cross my mind to text him asking if he needed a date with a cute brunette...