Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Crash Course

There are days when I wake and I can’t think of anything to write about. Today I thought, ‘Everything about Brady has been said or written already, nothing interesting is going on in my life (standard operating procedure at this point), and I have nothing brilliant to pass on. Maybe I should skip the blog today’.

Then something pops up right in front of me and I have material.

This morning that something happened to be a silver Chevy SUV with a driver who’s eyes get as big as cereal bowls when my truck bears down on him.

I was heading to the gym around five this morning. Yeah, 5. As in AM! I’m dedicated (and tired), what can I say.

My new gym is a bit further down the main road than my old one. This road has approximately 152 sets of traffic lights on it. While that may be an exaggeration, it’s not far off. At this time of the morning, it’s still dark so the traffic lights are obvious from far away. You can see three to four intersections ahead of you at times and what the light is set to.

This morning I made good time, hitting mostly green lights. I was approaching my third green light in a row when Mr. A. Dipshit either didn’t notice his light was red, didn’t care, was trying to save some time or was completely distracted by the woman in the passenger seat and went right through his red light and into my path.

I was about 100 feet from the green light, traveling around 40 when he just appeared in front of me. Instantly two things happened:

1: I nearly shit my pants.

2: Mr Dipshit realized what he had done and stopped. I understand this is just basic human reflex at work, but if he had kept moving and cruised through the light I would have barely recognized what had happened before we would both pass through the intersection. It would have been one of those ‘Wait, did that dude just blow through a light?’ after everything had transpired and I was traveling on my confused way.

People in crisis always refer to that moment just before an accident or traumatic event where ‘time stops’ or slows down. While this may not be accurate, many things happen in a very brief period of time. This happened to me before when I was traveling to New Hampshire and I noticed a huge rock bouncing down the highway directly in front of me. I had the first half of the thought ‘Well, if it stays low to the ground I can clear it’ formed in my head before the thing bounced funny, launched itself 20 feet in the air and came straight at my windshield. I had mere seconds to judge whether I should change lanes (couldn’t as there were cars on either side of me), jam the brakes on or speed up to get past it before it landed. If I was lucky it would land in the bed of my truck and I’d have a souvenir of the rock that nearly killed me.

I did neither as the rock came down much quicker than I anticipated. I made a last minute attempt to speed up, but that just forced the rock up and smashed my windshield wiper flat and sent the rock up and over my truck to whoever was behind me.

That entire decision factored in how many cars were around me, what would happen if I slammed on my brakes on a major highway while traveling at 70 MPH, the speed and angle of the rock while it was in the air and even what part of the truck would best take the brunt of the impact. This all happened in less than 5 seconds from the time I first spotted the rock.

It isn’t that time slows so much as you brain speeds up. Decisions and possible options are considered and discarded in milliseconds. Details are magnified and left imprinted on your brains for years; often the rest of your life.

Such was this morning. The sequence of events went like this:

My realization that an SUV had suddenly appeared in front of me.

The look of absolute horror on Dipshit’s face when he turned to find my truck bearing down on him.

That he had pulled nearly all the way into the intersection, which gave me three options:

1: Jam the brakes on (which I had already started doing by this point) and hope I stop in time.

2: Attempt to miss him by going in front of his car. Unfortunately the vehicle’s momentum still was pushing him forward.

3: Go behind him and jump the curb. The sidewalk I would be going over was one of those handicap accessible ramp ones. So the corner curb was low to the ground with the wheel chair ramp sloping right to the level of the street.

All of these factored into my head in less than two seconds. Yes, I even noticed the low curbs during this process. I can’t explain it, I just know that my brain processed everything at warp speed. I even noticed who I assume was Dipshit’s wife or girlfriend repeatedly punching him in the arm as she launched into full panic mode.

Option 3 was the best bet. I took my foot off the brake since it was quickly obvious I wasn’t going to stop in time, anyway, and aimed for the back of the SUV. I passed so closely to the back of the truck I nearly lost my side mirror.

After bumping over the slight curb, I got back in my lane and slowed enough to make sure Dipshit wasn’t crushed by the truck that had been following me. He was quickly backing out of the intersection and out of harm’s way so I continued on my way.

I will say one good thing about Dipshit and his absent mindedness: He certainly woke me up for my work out. Yeesh.

Today’s distraction: State Farm’s list on what to do if you are in a car accident. Strangely, ‘kick the shit out of other idiotic driver’ isn’t on the list.

1 comment:

son pere said...

Wow! Way to avoid having a major bummer of a day by broadsiding Mr. Dipshit! Most people in that situation would simply scream, while completely letting go of the wheel to cover their eyes to avoid seeing the inevitable carnage. What are they screaming? Probably something like "Holy shit!", or "What the f...!" or "Oh, my God! I'm going to die!"

I'm going to nominate you for AAA Driver of the Year!