Another beautiful, sunshiny day in Southern California, then BAM! Literally.
I was driving north on the 5 (Interstate 5 for non-locals ;)), heading off to meet some friends for a drink after having just had my hair cut and colored (yes, I freely admit to that), the sun was dipping closer and closer to the ocean. Then suddenly I experienced something I can only describe as being like what I imagine a sonic boom would be: a big boom in my ears and instant pressure all around me, but especially on my forehead and nose. I instinctively closed my eyes, then when I opened them it was much darker. I was looking straight at the front windshield and took a second to comprehend that it was dark because my car’s hood had flipped open and come careening smack-dab at me. I then realized the windshield was shattered into a million small crevices, yet amazingly (and thankfully!) still attached to the car. (Here’s an interesting article about windshields.) Keep in mind, all this is happening as I’m cruising along about 65-70 mph, but I was in the slow lane (someplace you’ll RARELY find me), so was able to pull over to the shoulder. Weird thing is that in the middle of all this instant chaos, I remembered to flip on my turn signal! Go figure.
As if all that wasn’t fun enough, the shoulder was extremely narrow, with each auto (and especially buses) practically pulling my car along with them, AND to top it all off I apparently did NOT receive my renewal notice for AAA, so was in a grace period! Thankfully the gal that assisted me on the phone was great and gladly took my credit card info to instantly renew my membership to the AAA Plus status. With the kind of (bad) luck I have with cars, I always like to have their extra 100 mile tow option. Sure came in handy tonight. Okay, it came in handy a couple of other nights, too.
It’s weird that even though the whole thing really shook the hell out of me (although it really didn’t hit me until about 4 hours later when I was finally alone and the reality of what “could have been” really sank in), there was also a reminder of just how amazing a connection with a stranger can be. The sweet AAA driver who came to save me from my twisted mess on the freeway ended up being such a calming presence, just by having an interesting conversation with me during our nearly one hour ordeal. Him just being “normal” and talking with me about people, life, education, helped keep me from having a well-deserved mini-meltdown. Thank you for that, Erwin!
So even though this day had a decidedly “icky” aspect to it and I’m still picking tiny bits of windshield out of my clothing, I can ONLY look at how lucky I am. I’m lucky that things weren’t much worse….they easily could have been. I’m lucky that no one else was injured…that would be unbearable. I’m lucky I have family who drops what they’re doing to come get me at the shop we towed the car to, then gladly forks over one of their cars to me so I can get around. I’m lucky I have friends who worry about me and delay their plans just to make sure I’m okay (did you get your decaf? ;)). But most of all, what I got from this big-time wake-up call was that you really never DO know when it just might be your time. Yes, this time I escaped with just some seriously shaken nerves, a crunched up hood, and a shattered windshield, but who knows what the future holds? All I know right now is that I plan on making good use of what time I do have. How about you?