Thursday, February 24, 2011

Crash into me...

I sincerely hope this post doesn't make anyone feel unsafe riding in a car with me.  But, I guess if you're still reading and not judging me after the last post, nothing will scare you.

In 10 years of being a licensed driver, I have totalled 4 cars.  Wait, it gets worse. Three of those incidents have been in the past 5 years.  I wish I could say that I was not at fault for any of these car accidents, but that would be a lie.  Besides one, which happened in a heinously bad and dangerous ice storm (and which fortunately did not involve any other vehicles - just me and an ice-covered interstate), I was the driver at fault for every single one of those car accidents.  I also wish that I could say that those car accidents were the only ones I have been in my life as a licensed driver, but that would also be a lie.  No, I've actually been in 7 separate fender benders in which I was one of the drivers (sometimes at fault, sometimes not).  I wish it stopped there.  I also hit a curb so hard I needed a new rim once.  I've swiped light posts and parked cars.  I even somehow managed to almost take someone's car door off as I pulled into a parking space next to them.

Reading this back, I realize I look like the world's worst driver.  I'm really not.  I've had some incredibly bad luck (or maybe I've had incredibly good luck because I've never been seriously injured in any of these accidents).

I'm not proud of any of this.  I'm actually quite ashamed of it.  Especially of the cars that I've totalled.  I am someone who realizes it is a privilege to own a vehicle.  Though at times Starbucks cups, stray french fries, and discarded papers may have littered the floors of my cars, I was never late on a payment.  I always kept up with the scheduled maintenance (oil changes, tire rotations, etc.)  Most of my cars have had nicknames (Baby, Audrey, Esuvee, 'Etta). One car even sported a pair of leopard-printed fuzzy dice.  And, I can honestly say each of the cars likely had a full tank of gas, newish tires, and a recent oil change on the day they were totalled.

I'm sorry to say that our most recent car accident was technically not The Incredible Hulk's first experience with mom's vehicular misfortune.  Actually, when I was about 15 weeks pregnant I got in a little fender bender while leaving campus after a night class.  We didn't even exchange insurance information.  It was no big deal.  No significant damage to either car.  However, my OB requested that I have an ultrasound to check out that everything was okay with our 15-week old bean.  The baby (a boy, we found out that day) was doing great and was completely unscathed from my little blunder earlier that week.

I wish I could say I drove more carefully for the rest of my pregnancy and had no other problems.  Unfortunately, a short four weeks later, I got into another car accident.  This one was a big deal.  Air bags.  Injuries.  Ambulances.  An ER visit.  Again, our tiny little Hulk was fine, but I drove white knuckled for the remaining 21 weeks of my pregnancy.

So, after being cooped up all weekend in our house battling the RSV Monster (oh yes, this has been a fabulous February), my husband decided to relieve me of my cabin fever so we could quickly grab some food.  We were sitting at an intersection, about to pull into a parking lot, with a Bastard Jeep Compass (BJC) (well, I guess I should say THE Bastard Jeep Compass) sitting at the red light in front of us.  He was rather far out into the intersection and it didn't surprise me when I saw his reverse lights come on.

"He's backing up," I said to my husband.
"I know, he's got room," he replied.
But then, as if it were in slow motion, THE BJC just kept going.  My husband attempted to react, but there was just no time.  The guy plowed right into us.  As it happened, I thought to myself is this real life?  How could he not have seen us?  It looked as though he was looking behind him as he backed up.  Did he think we were going to back up too?  

Well, those were the thoughts I had.  The words that came out of my mouth were more like, "You stupid bleeping mother bleeping bleeper."  And they weren't words so much as they were shrieks.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that TIH may have gotten through his third car accident without even realizing it, had it not been for Mommy's adorable screaming. 

I actually can't believe how mad I got at the guy for endangering my child.  As many accidents as I've been party to (and oftentimes, the responsible party), who am I to judge?  I thought about that as I sat in the back of my own car, comforting TIH, and apologizing to the reporting police officer about not having the most updated insurance card in my glove box.  Who am I to judge this man?  I've done far worse damage myself and no one has ever called me a "stupid bleeping mother bleeping bleeper."  At least not to my face.

Which brings us to now.  I'm driving the rental BJC.   I'm hoping that some day my son will realize that more accidents than you can count on 2 hands in 10 years = not good.  But, I hope he'll also realize that people make mistakes and though those mistakes may do some damage and wreak some havoc, it's nothing that we aren't prepared to deal with.
No one was hurt and the car can be fixed.
Hey, that's why we have insurance.
That's why they're called "accidents."

These were all things that we were said to me in the aftermath of my many collisions.  It made me feel better.  It made me feel normal.  Fallible.  But, normal.

I assure you, I am not a reckless driver.  I'm just not wreck-less either.

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