Last Thursday I was driving to Greensboro, North Carolina for a workshop. I was almost to where I-85 South and I-40 East split, right before Greensboro. A few minutes earlier, I had made my way to the far right lane because I knew my exit was approaching. As I passed under an underpass, I happened to glance in my rear view mirror, and all I saw was the red cab of an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer truck trying to merge into my lane. I realized he was WAY to close to me and as I was about to honk my horn the truck hit me from behind, sending me spinning across three lanes of traffic. The back of my car slammed into the median and I was left with my front end angled towards oncoming traffic.
I was in a car accident once before, when a friend and I were driving back to Colby from Portland, where we had gone to a Salvadoran restaurant for some pupusas. Some sort of largish animal crossed the road, my friend put on the brakes and we careened into the guard rail. The only reason I’m glad I got into that crash is that the feeling of spinning out of control was not completely foreign to me.
But what happened on Thursday was so much worse, not because there was more damage to my car or my person (in fact, in both cases there was less) but because the potential for what COULD have happened was so so so terrifying. As I was spinning across the highway I was 100% sure that another car was going to T-bone me. After all, I was crossing three lanes of heavy traffic traveling at over 70 miles per hour. When I realized that I was still alive, I literally could not believe it. The first thing I did was put my hands to my face, as in, am I still here? Is this real?
Luckily, another woman stopped her car and kind of blocked traffic from entering the lane that the front of my car was sticking out into. But more than that, after I called 911, she gave me the biggest hug and held me while I sobbed from the pure shock of it all. And she waited until the police arrived before driving off, assuring me that everything was going to be okay. I’m very grateful for her.
The truck that hit me had stopped up ahead and the police took the accident report and facilitated an exchange of insurance information. Unfortunately, the truck driver flat-out lied and said that I was the one who hit him, which is simply not possible. However, I understand that he did that probably not out of spite for me but to keep his job. I’m trying hard to let that go.
My car is okay. I ended up being able to drive it away from the scene to a mechanic shop where the mechanic cut off a chunk of my back bumper that was hanging in the wind. Besides that, there is a dent in the driver’s side front and back doors, a huge dent in the driver’s side back fender where the truck hit me, a broken tail light and a flat spot on one of my tires (a result of the skidding). Although the Sentra doesn’t look great, I can still drive her, and tomorrow she’s getting a set of brand new tires.
I was in no state to drive home, so Ben drove an hour to get me, and brought his dad along to drive my car home. I’m so lucky to have possibly the world’s best boyfriend.
The major downside to the accident was that I wasn’t able to go visit my grandparents and cousins on Jekyll Island like I was planning. But I was able to spend a relaxing weekend here in Raleigh in which I did almost no school work. Yay!
Although it sounds corny, this experience has made me stop and appreciate my life. My goal now is to be more mindful and live more in the present moment, because we never know how things might change in the course of a few seconds.