I left work Friday to greet the rest of what was a beautiful day. It was sunny, bright, and had all the exhilaration that Fridays are wont to contain. I took my usual route home, arriving at a stop light to turn left, a wild-haired woman driving a Lincoln (read: boat car) tried to cut me off from across four lanes. The rest of the cars had yielded to her, but I didn’t see her until it was almost too late. But we avoided hitting each other and she got into the other left lane next to me.
For the next few blocks, she wove in and out of her lane, into another lane and back again. I gave her a wide berth, trying to drive strategically and defensively. I breathed a happy sigh of relief when she turned onto another street, but I kept my same distance from the other cars around me as I pulled up to the next stop light. It was a good thing too, because not long after I hear a screeching of tires and a crunching sound behind me. I looked into the rearview to see the oncoming car behind me slam into the back of my car.
Panic ensues, I put the car in park, punch the hazard lights and get out to see if everyone is okay. Although, in the confusion, there was not much other than a nod of acknowledgement, we were all intact. Now the tricky part. We pull our cars into the gas station and begin to grab our information. I have a million papers in my glove box, but not one is the most current insurance card. Not that I needed to give them my information, because I wasn’t at fault.
I try to call my husband, but get no answer. I think he must be at the daycare picking up our son. I realize we never established who was doing the pick up that day. I wonder if he’s waiting on me to come home, or what his plan was for the evening. My hands won’t stop shaking as I call again, leaving a very stressed message on his voicemail. I call again, and get no answer. I give up.
I go around and snap pictures of the license plates of the cars that hit me. By then, the original driver is out of the car, apologizing, trying to find his paperwork for us. His car is a wreck, the front is crumpled under and his airbag deployed. I have no idea how fast he was going. The car that hit me seemed to be faring better, and was still driveable.
So we exchange information, and call our respective insurance agencies. It takes nearly 40 minutes to file the claim, and I’m interrupted halfway through when my husband finally returns my calls. I explain where I am, and what’s happened, and assure him that I’m fine. He’s got the baby, and is feeding him dinner.
Eventually, we get through all that, and I can finally go home. A light in my car keeps coming on now (the traction control, I think), so I’ll have to deal with that too. The accident doesn’t bother me. It’s the hassle of getting my car fixed that does. The irritating thing for me, is that for all the accidents I see at that intersection, I shouldn’t have been the one getting hit. I did everything right. I left space for the car in front of me, I was paying attention. But because someone else wasn’t, I have another mess to add to my already full agenda.