Saturday, December 15, 2007

Near death experience

Yesterday I had a near death experience. I was in a car accident. At the end of the day it turned out to be a small one. But that was apparent only at the end of it all, and while it was happening, it was quite harrowing. Yet, it must not have been as terrible since my life did not flash before my eyes. That was disappointing in a way, because as the years have gotten on, my memories have become hazy, and I wouldn't mind a replay of a few things.

I was cruising along at the speed limit of about 40 mph when a car shot out in front of me from a side street because its driver did not see me coming. It was all over in perhaps less than half a second, but it seemed as if it took a good minute or two.

I was rolling along, thinking about the latest fire drill at work, but fortunately quite alert to the road, when I saw in disbelief this car hurrying out of a side lane across my path, only yards away. In the instant I suspected it wasn't about to stop I jammed on the brakes hard and watched. To my horror, the other car showed no sign of seeing me and continued on its trajectory across my path. All I could do was keep my foot pressed down hard and watch. I could feel the car shudder as the ABS strained to stop the car without skidding.

At first I remember thinking "I'm going to die, and there's not a damn thing I can do about it." There was this car just a few feet away from me and I was hurtling toward it with no option of either of us altering course. Then slowly it dawned on me that my car was indeed slowing down and for what seemed like several seconds I thought there'd just be a big bang and I'd be able to limp out of the car later. Some time later I had reached the other car, but I grimaced knowing my car was still moving. All through this time the other car had proceeded only 5 or 10 feet across my path. As I gritted my teeth I felt the collision.

It was a thankful anticlimax. I quickly realized it was just a graze, and my car had all but stopped before it hit the other. And in fact if it wasn't for the fact that the other car was still moving across my path, perhaps both cars would have gotten away with not even the scrapes they suffered. I silently appreciated my luck, thought of my wife and son, and then continued on my way to work to fight the fires there that lasted much much longer than this one. In retrospect it was a fairly distant near-death experience, but really, I don't want to get any closer, no matter how much character it has the potential of building.