I thought it would be funny if someone got into an accident because of an ambulance. It wasn't.
Zoelle and I were going to work yesterday morning when it happened. We came to a T intersection when we heard an ambulance. We figured out it was coming from the left when we were already in the intersection, and stopped for it. By the time it cleared, our left turn light had turned red, leaving us out in the middle of the intersection, blocking traffic. A woman from our right waved us on.
As we rolled out to clear the intersection, a sedan from the same direction as the ambulance plowed into our driver-side door at thirty miles an hour. We had enough time to register that we were about to get hit, and covered our heads just before the impact.
The worst part about car accidents is the sound they make, that crunching pop of metal on metal. The guy didn't see us and didn't brake, so there was just less than a second of warning before it happened. We saw the car as it was on top of us, and then the seatbelt was jerking against my chest and I couldn't breathe. The last time I've had the breath knocked out of me was when I fell off the zipwire in the third grade and landed on my chest in the mulch. It's a decidedly scary feeling.
My glasses flew off my face and the car filled with dust. I fumbled around my lap in shock and felt these tiny glasses in my hand. I immediately freaked out, thinking my glasses were broken, but it turned out that Zoelle's smaller pair had just flown into my lap and mine had been thrown to the floor. Then, in disorientation, as Zoelle tried to figure out if the other driver was okay, I yanked desperately on my seatbelt, unable to figure out how to unhook it.
We all climbed out of the cars—Zoelle had to climb out of the passenger's side because her door was crushed in a blocked by the other car. We all got to the side of the road and surveyed the damage. The front axle of Zoelle's car had collapsed, and front driver's side was crushed in, the windshield was cracked, and the wheel was at a diagonal to the ground. The other car had an accordianed front and was dripping oil. He had hit us hard enough to turn our car in a different direction. Both cars were totaled. And here's the kicker: No one stopped.
A county police officer was driving by and stopped for us. He asked us, and I quote, "Alright, so who ran the red light?" It was a discouraging day, to say the least.
We all got out with minor injuries, just some bone and tissue bruises, and epic soreness from where the seatbelts jerked us and where our knees ate dashboard. The feeling reminds me of that morning the first volleyball practice of the year, after I'd been bumming around and falling out of shape all summer. Parts of my body I forgot existed are aching.
I think what I'm left with now, rather than trauma or shock, is lingering surprise that it happened at all. When it was happening, I was split between fear, the sense that everything was going to change, and a feeling of inevitability. Now, it's just the thought, "Really? Did that seriously happen?"
I got to see my chest x-ray, though, which was cool. Looking at my spine and ribs, I thought that the human body is really impressively constructed. The only way to make myself feel better and appreciate my newfound awe for human existence was to eat a meatball sub and take a nap. Which I did.
Labels: accidents, cars, fear, summer