Some Things are Hard to Forget

Tuesday, October 2, 2007  4:20 PM

A day that’s hard to forget.  I’ve talked about this before, but I thought I would reflect on it one last time.

I was a senior in high school with a driver’s license and I had the privilege to drive to and from school.  I had a parking pass and everything to have an ideal senior year.  I drove a 1993 White Volvo; a car that pretty much grew up with me.  I was like most teens my age.  I was excited to be able to drive around on my own accord and without burdening others (especially parents) with the need to give me a ride somewhere.  The freedom was thrilling.  And more importantly I was a confident driver.

Emphasis on was.

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Everything changed when I was driving to my piano teacher’s house for a lesson.  I let my guard down for a second and made a bad decision to turn left at an intersection.  An oncoming car had sped up to bypass the yellow light turning red and we collided.  He had the right of way by all means.  It all happened so fast; one second I was listening to Jeremy Camp, the next I was in the wreckage of a car accident.  There’s an unsettling feeling of hearing metal smash together on metal, the smell of the resultant smoke and the ringing sound in your ears after being in something like that.  No one was seriously injured.  The other guy just had a small cut on his forehead.  I walked out with a small fracture on my left wrist, as well as a spine misaligned enough to need a chiropractor to fix it.

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The picture is small because it was taken off of my flip phone.  State of the art at the time.. haha

As I walked out of my car to the nearby sidewalk, there were a couple nice ladies that helped me out.  They witnessed the whole thing and so they gave me their contact information, for they sided with me.  They also made sure I didn’t have a concussion and calmed me down; I was only 17 after all.  It’s funny, the first thing I did was call my mom, not 911.  I guess I instinctively feared the consequences I would face at home more so than the pressing matter of two totaled cars in the middle of an intersection.  Oddly enough, San Gabriel Boulevard is considered a highway.  I know this because no nearby police station was dispatched; we waited almost an hour for a highway patrol officer to come by.  The nearest police station is 5 minutes away from where we were.  While I waited, relatives around the area congregated to me.  My aunt who is a lawyer protected me from the other guy’s angry wife with her legal powers.  She was being a jerk to me.  And although the guy was supposedly a pastor, his demeanor didn’t really reflect that.  I can’t judge too hard, I mean I think I would be pretty mad if a high schooler hit my car too.

I don’t know how long it takes for an average person to shake off a traumatic experience such as that, but this haunted me for a while.  I didn’t drive for a couple months after that event.  And when I started back up again, I was scared about every little thing.  I didn’t really like driving.  Anything outside of the 626 bubble made me nervous.  I want to say I fully recovered somewhere during junior year of college, a good 3 years later.

Some habits stuck around through.  A lot of people that have been passengers in my car like to complain about my driving style.  They don’t like that I don’t weave through traffic or that I stop at lights that have been yellow a little bit too long.  They don’t like that I follow the speed limit either.  But what do they know?  They have never been in a car crash, fortunately for them.  They still speed along with eyes focused on their phone as they text.  I would like to think I’ve been changed for the better.  Should my free spirited driving gone unchecked longer, things may have been different somewhere down the line.

Drive safe.

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