The numbers are what made me cry -- just not enough of them going into my checking account this week to deal with the situation at hand.
The tow truck driver looked over at me as he prepared to tow the car I'll be paying on for four more years from the median of I-94 Westbound to an undetermined location. Nicest tow-truck driver in the world. Josh. His wife is a Pittsfield Township cop. I didn't know all this until about twenty minutes later when he was unhooking my car at my home. But I could tell the minute he hopped in the driver's seat, through all my tears and snot, he was a pretty good guy.
"Not the best day, huh," he said.
"It's a terrible day," I said. The weather, couldn't have been better, 76 and sunny when I left the house -- and I'd just walked away from a crash that could very well have been fatal. It isn't the first nearly-fatal crash I've walked away from. When I was a reporter in West Virginia a truck plowed into me during a light snow when I was trying gingerly to make my way around a mountain. I went airbound in my Chevy Corsica. No kidding, I flew through the air that day. Thankfully snow and tall grass cushioned my landing. I took out a fence. The car slid about two-hundred feet through a farmer's field. People from the holler gathered on the road up on the mountain and watched me open the car door and walk through the valley. I might have waved to them or something; I don't recall. I just remember sitting in this truck with the guy who pushed me off the mountain waiting for what seemed like forever for the sheriff's deputy to arrive. When he did, he had a few simple questions: "Been drinking?" We said no. "Anybody shooting any guns?" Again we said no. "Been feudin'?" The accident report was pretty straight forward, even though I'd just flown through the air off the side of a mountain -- not the sort of thing that happens to a Michigan girl every day.
The police officer (who kept borrowing my pen today) asked me what happened. I told him traffic stopped quickly in front of me. It was either smash into the car in front of me or get in the median. I think the car in front of me swerved into the median for a second, too. It was fast. I clipped the wall. My car flipped in a fish tail and my backside hit the wall, too. Then it flipped again. My airbag didn't even activate. A bunch of cars pulled over and asked me if I was OK. I got out of the car so everybody could see me. No blood. No guts. I had been wearing my seatbelt. Hadn't been on the phone, hadn't even been drinking a pop or anything -- I had just been on my way to work. I waved to the people in the passing cars. "I'm OK," I said. "Are you sure you're OK?" A bunch of drivers asked. "Yes," I said. "Not a scratch."
Something like that... It's such a jumble.
The officer asked me for my insurance and registration. He went back to his car with my license. I couldn't find my insurance and registration -- not in my glove box. I admit, I am not detail oriented. Sometimes I forget to put things like that in the glove box. I don't know why I do these things! I told him I would look for it in the back seat while he processed my license. I ruffled through all the Aflac brochures in my back seat and couldn't find it anywhere. I called my insurance agent. He wasn't there. He had been calling me a couple of times a week to get me to sell insurance with him. He wants me to get licensed to sell property and auto insurance. I almost did. But I just don't like insurance. It doesn't make me happy. I was getting fat selling the Aflac. Seriously, I gained fifty pounds in six months. That's a sign that it's not a good fit. That's a sign that something needs to give. So, I just didn't get around to calling him back.
I should have called him, though. This afternoon his secretary told me my insurance was due on the Sixth of September. Damn it. Seriously, I thought I was paid up. I am sure he had sent me a notice. But I swear to you, I thought my insurance was paid. It seemed as though I had JUST PAID it.
So that's why I was crying in the tow truck. I felt like such an idiot. I told Josh. I said, "I can't believe what an idiot I am!"
He said,"You're lucky you're alive. I've seen crashes that aren't nearly this bad and the people die."
"That's true," I said, grateful I'm so anal about seatbelts.
"And you made the right choice by going into the median," he said. "You could have killed someone in the car in front of you."
"That's true," I said. "I am a pretty good driver."
"You're just lucky nobody's dead or even hurt."
"And I didn't even hit anything but the wall," I said. "That would have been REALLY bad if I'd hit another car with no insurance."
He saved my bumper and the lights for me, said it looks like they can be put back on. The trunk is a bit smashed but it opens and closes. The radiator is moved a bit, he said. But it looks like maybe it's still OK.
That's the main thing that could be a problem, he said -- the radiator. Other than that, he said it might just be cosmetic. I asked him about the frame. The police officer thought maybe I'd messed it up. Josh was a mechanic before he started driving the tow truck ten years ago. He got under my car for and looked at it. He said it doesn't look like the frame is messed up.
I just bought two new tires for that car. It doesn't even have 40,000 miles on it yet.
It's not a happy situation. It's going to cost me.
Everything does, though, doesn't it?
I told Josh how much I appreciated his kindness. He assured me I wasn't nearly as much of an emotional wreck as half the people who have things like this happen. He also shared stories about other people's hard luck that made me feel super fortunate. Misery loves company. One woman he'd towed recently had packed up everything she'd owned into a moter home to head out of state and start a new life. About twenty miles into her trip she rolled her home on wheels and lost everything. What wasn't wrecked in the accident was damaged by the firefighters who hosed down the crash. Josh's wife worked exclusively with domestic violence cases for two years. Josh himself has picked up Christmas presents that have been scattered all over the highway.
Today wasn't the greatest day of my life. But I know enough from having been a reporter for more than ten years to realize this day is really small potatoes in the scheme of calamities.
The numbers do make me feel like crying more, though. Maybe I'll cry again. I think I could use a really good cry. Maybe I'll watch a sad movie.
Even though I feel as though I want to cry my heart out, I'm so grateful to be sitting here without a scratch. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you Guardian Angel.
St. Joseph, pray for my car situaion.
St. Anne, St. Anne, send me a man.