I feel the need

I feel the need

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How much damage can you do only going 12 MPH?

Hello all!

Well, I'm going to take your collective minds off the fact that it's election day here in the States and no matter what the outcome, there's going to be shrieking and howling from both sides of the aisle for a couple of months.  At least maybe after today they'll stop calling our houses with those ridiculous taped messages.

I realized I haven't told you all a story that's sort of core to the person I am now.  And I probably should.  Not everyone who knows this story finds it funny, but I do because, after all, the blog is entitled "It can only Happen to Sarah."  I'm Sarah, and this is something that could have only happened to me.

It was December 20 of 1999.  The whole planet was in a fevered pitch over the Y2K virus that was going to take down civilization at the stroke of midnight on the 1st of January.  I was a mom of a newly turned 6 year old and a not quite 3 year old and I was running late.  See, Skippy had forgotten his snow pants  (For those of you who don't know what snow pants are, they are big puffy pants we make our children wear in the winter because it's really, really, really cold here but the children like to play in the snow.  Snow pants are not stylish, but they do keep the little guys warm and dry.)  in his father's car, which was parked at his father's work.  So, I drove to Hubby's work, got the snow pants, and then drove across town to school.  Yes, I was running late.  And yes, I was probably going a touch too fast for conditions, especially since conditions were COLD  (about the coldest day on record for the last few years) and icy  (black ice...ice you can't really see until you're on it, is a special on the roads here in Wisconsin.)

About halfway to school, I hit a patch of ice, and spun the Pontiac 6000 twice.  It was a smooth spin because I, like most adults who live in the Upper Midwest, know how to handle ice without big panic.  The kids loved it.  "DO IT AGAIN MOM!"  They both shouted.

"Well," says I, "We were very fortunate we didn't hit anyone or anything, and Skippy is going to be late for school, so let's just drive, okay?"

Three blocks later, I hit another patch of ice and spun.  In the middle of the spin, because even though it happens very quickly, it's like slow motion, I realized I was either going to hit a car stopped at the stop light, or a parked car.

I opted for the parked car.

Obviously, we're not talking about high speeds here.  I think I was moving at all of about 12 miles per hour, which is fast enough to do some damage on the icy roads.

Again, the kids were cheering, but this time around I wasn't so calm. I hate getting into accidents.  It completely slows down the whole day.  My first call was to Hubby.  He had to come and get Skippy to school because, though I was almost within site of the school, I knew I was going to have to wait for the police.  The next call was to the police.  (The non emergency number, of course, because no one was hurt.  The other driver didn't even know he'd been in an accident yet.)  The police told me it was going to be a wait because, after all, there were a lot of accidents up and down that stretch of road.

By this time, the owner of the parked car was outside his house and looking at me with not too fond an expression.  I walked him over to his car, and explained, very apologetically, what had happened, and we examined the damage to his car.  (There wasn't much.)

I learned later that he didn't speak a word of English and had no idea what I was saying.  (Waukesha has a very high population of Hispanic immigrants.)

Now, just so we have the logistics laid out...My car is parked at the curb, and the car I hit is parked at the curb.  The damage to the car I hit is on the driver's side...so when the owner and I were looking at the car, we were, yes, STANDING IN THE STREET.  This is not uncommon, but it's not terribly smart, given the fact that a massive patch of black ice lay there, waiting for another victim.

The ice didn't have to wait long. 

We were still looking at the car when another vehicle came over the small rise in the road, hit that patch of ice, spun around and smacked, like I did, into the same spot on the car.

Only, she didn't hit the car.  Because I was standing between her and the car.  So she hit me.

I don't actually remember much of that part of it.  I remember trying to explain to the owner what I had done, then I remember lying face down on the pavement between the cars, with the hood of my Green Bay Packer Winter coat  (A must have for everyone in Wisconsin) flopped over my head.

All I could hear at that point was a woman shrieking and crying.  And apparently a crowd gathered quickly because I could hear an angry man shouting that someone should sue the city for not salting the roads earlier in the day. 

The only thing I could think of was, "If I don't get up, they're going to take me to the hospital and my kids will go into protective custody because Hubby isn't here yet and I'll never see my kids  again."  So I tried to get up.  And I fell back to the pavement immediately.  It wasn't like I was in pain, my legs simply weren't there. 

This renewed the woman's shrieking.  I guess the site of me, flat down on the pavement, is good theater because no one in the crowd reached down to help me up.  Again, I pictured my children 1)  Seeing this, because I knew by this time Skippy had unbuckled himself and was watching everything and 2)  sitting in some Dickensian Orphanage.  It was almost Christmas!

I tried getting up again, and this time someone put a hand out to steady me.  "Are the kids okay?"

"THERE ARE KIDS?????????"  The woman who apparently hit me was now on some level of panic I don't recognize as human.

"Yes.  Are they okay?"  I pointed to my car, and I saw Skippy looking at me, his dark eyes huge.

No one seemed to be able to tell me, so I opened up the car door.  Skippy handed me my cell phone.  "It's time to call 911 Mama." 

I knew he would have called 911, too, if I hadn't gotten up.  Good kid!

"Mama bleeding!"  Peaches announced.

Only then did I realize that I had blood on my face.  I felt okay, nothing too bad, except for my left knee and my mouth.  I guess I landed on those two points.

Did I mention it was cold?  It was at least a -10 Fahrenheit, and that was without the wind chill.  I didn't want to scare anyone, because I had no idea what my face looked like, so I popped my hood back up while I again called the police, and said that we now had multiple cars and an injury at my location.  (Johnny Gage would have been proud.)

A man walked up to me and said, "Sarah, the children can sit in my house while you wait."

I looked up and didn't immediately recognize the younger Hispanic gent in front of me.

"Sarah, It's Roman."

ROMAN!  I'd worked with Roman a year earlier at the cleaning company.  He was part of a very large family.  I'd worked with almost everyone in his family and I liked them all.  It was like an angel sent from Heaven.  "Okay kids,"  I unbuckled Peaches.  "You're going to go to Roman's house and wait for Dad."

"Do you have Cartoon Network?"  Skippy wanted to know.

"I do."  Roman took Peaches and Skippy two doors up to his duplex.

The police arrived..just in time to watch car #3 come up over the rise, hit that patch of ice, spin, and hit the parked car.  And this time he hit the back of the parked car.  Complete count:  Four damaged cars, fifteen or so people milling around, one hysterical banshee of a woman, and me.  I got into my car, because it was cold and looked at myself in the rear view mirror.  Ewww.....my mouth was bloody, I'd cut my lip inside someplace.  I was going to have a bruise on my face.  Other that, I seemed okay.

Multiple cop cars closed off the area.  One officer talked to car #3, one came over and talked to me.  "How did you cut yourself?"

"A car hit me."

Another rolled Hysterical woman around the corner because, as it turned out, the one vehicle that hit me was the only UNINSURED VEHICLE in this little scene. 

Of course.  So the damage to me and the damage to my car was not going to get paid for.  Lovely.

Hubby got there and said, "How did you hurt yourself?"

"A car hit me."

"What you hit your head on the dash or the steering wheel?"

"No man,"  Angry guy stepped in.  "That car hit her man!  She popped up and bam, landed on her face!  Somebody needs to sue the city!  Where are the salt trucks?"

The cop suddenly looks really worried.  "The car hit you?"

"Yes.  I said, a car hit me."

"I thought you just meant you hit the steering wheel."

At this point my knee is really starting to hurt.  (Get used to that phrase from me...for like the next forever years.)  And Hubby is giving me that look, you know the one, like you've lost your mind.  "Where are the kids?"

"I told you, at Roman's."


I look around and realize that my cop is now very interested in what shrieking, uninsured woman has to say,so he's no longer standing next to me.  I walk Hubby up two doors to Roman's duplex.  there, in the blessed warmth, are my two kiddies, sitting in front of the TV, which is situation under THE LARGEST PICTURE OF JESUS I've ever seen.  Seriously, I've seen a lot of pictures of Jesus, this one was MASSIVE.  Hubby got them both into their winter gear again, amid protests, of course, and hauled Skippy to school.

Skippy's Kindergarten teacher later told me that he told a very long story for about ten minutes and yes, he saw everything.  That's a chapter in his book I guess.

A few minutes later, Hubby returned to collect me and take me to the doctor to get my face looked at.  We dropped Peaches at a friend's house and headed for the clinic.  At the doctor's I finally got to see the extent of the mess that was my face.  I had blood all over my Johnny Gage/Roy De Soto "Happy Holidays" sweatshirt.  All I kept saying was, "I got blood on my guys."

Five stitches in my mouth and a series of x-rays that showed no damage to my knee (Yeah, right) later, I was on the couch nursing a lot of aches and pains with lots of Advil and a bag of frozen peas.  (Those of you with kids in sports know that frozen peas make the best ice packs.) 

I don't need a fancy ice pack when I have frozen peas!
I can never thank Roman enough for keeping my kids warm that day.  I sent him a flower arrangement and a pie  (It was the Bob and Brian special at Locker's Florist.)  But I will never forget his kindness.  I hope some day I'll be able to pay that one forward.

As for the damage to the car, it wasn't much. That happens when you stand in front of the car that's about to hit your car.  So there's a money saving tip for ya!  (Hey, if we're going to have government run healthcare, why not make use of it?)  We sold the car a few months later.  We never did fix it mostly because uninsured woman was supposed to pay us $250 (which was our deductible) in $50 installments.  She made one payment, then declared bankruptcy.  I wonder where she is now.

I got the stitches taken out on Christmas Eve.  And on New Year's eve, I was ready for the y2K virus to destroy the world.  I had 6 months supply of baby wipes, water, meat, matches, and toilet paper. 

Yeah, and just like the X-rays on my knee, y2K sort of wasn't what was predicted.

The kids still talk about the accident.  Skippy I think has actual memories of it, but Peaches has heard the story often enough.  They both still wish I'd spin the car again.  I haven't since that accident,  and I don't intend to.

Oh, and the owner of the parked car?  Well, I know what our insurance paid him and I'm sure car #3's insurance paid him plenty.  I'm guessing we both got billed for a complete repair on the car, and he got enough money to actually go out and get a new car.  That's what I would have done! I suppose we're all lucky no one was moving quickly that day.  I mean, how much damage can you possibly do when you're only going 12?

Today I have a bum knee, and I can point to that day as the day I started putting on weight because it simply hurt so much to exercise.  I'm sure there's a surgery in my future, but I sort of don't mind it too much.  My knee reminds me just how dramatic and funny life can be.  Seriously, if you can't laugh at those moments of drama to seem like too much, you're going to just drop dead from being too serious!

Which is what I hope you got from this story.

1 comment:

  1. I remember this, I remember the 'Goolie' (and still call the rare 6000's I see by that name), I know first-hand that soft-tissue damage never shows up on x-ray, but I'm glad to have the over-sized Jesus to add to the memory.


Fun Fact Friday: Now that it's dead, Sarah reveals a childhood dream.

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