A Change of Pacer.

Posted by admin on August 2, 2011 in Randomalities |
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I have been fortunate in my life to have escaped vehicular harm for the most part. I have been in three accidents, none of them my doing. Two were minor, though I may have inadvertently killed one woman when I told her to drop dead after numerous calls about the self-inflicted damage to her car. I never heard from her again.

There was only one accident that was serious, certainly bad enough that I occasionally still have dreams about it and why N 145th St. in Seattle still is not a road I like to drive down.

The day started innocently enough. My then girlfriend and I had enjoyed a lovely day together and were merely heading back to our apartment. It was just off Aurora, in Shoreline.

We were heading west on 145th. I had just cleared the traffic light at Meridian. For anyone who’s driven down the road you know that the road heads up an incline, flattens a bit, then rises again to meet Aurora.

I was in the flat when I saw “it” approaching. By it, I mean the car that was about to forever change our lives. It was coming up on us fast. Really fast. Initially I thought it was going to serve around us, into the other lane. It didn’t… it hit us full on in the rear, still accelerating.

I had just enough time to say, “Oh, shit” and slam my head into the headrest of the seat. The impact was horrific. I could see it in the rear view mirror. The blue AMC Pacer hit us so hard that the hood wasn’t more than two feet from the back of my head. We had a Honda Accord hatchback at the time. There was no hatch and there was no back. There was barely a back seat, it now being pushed upward toward the roof.

The two cars were now fused together and started to spin. A light pole briefly danced in front of us, but then the spin continued clockwise. At that point, the Pacer portion of our dance of doom collided with a pick up truck that was heading the other way. This impact finally broke the dance partners up and all the cars came to a rest. It was over in an instant.

My girlfriend was dazed and confused. I told her not to move, that help would arrive. It did. In spades. Within minutes a fire truck, an aid car and a couple of police cars were on the scene.

I was not hurt, at least as far as I could tell. The paramedics immobilized my girlfriend. As we shall see in a moment, that was a very good thing. Me, I was put into the back of a patrol car so I could give a statement. My girlfriend was moved to the ambulance. The wreckers showed up and took the cars.

And there I was, all alone on N. 145th St. All the emergency personnel were so frantic taking care of everyone else that they had forgotten about little old me. I stood there for a moment, holding the briefcase and one shoe I had taken from the car. I finally walked up to the door of one of the houses on the street. I knocked. I told the guy who answered that I had been in that accident he had just witnessed and that I thought I should go to the hospital.

He took me there. I didn’t ask to be seen by a doctor. I was more concerned about my girlfriend. I finally found her exam room. Her dad was there. I asked how she was and her dad replied, “She has a broken neck.” My girlfriend’s very doeish eye got even bigger. No one had told her this yet.

Thankfully, she was not paralyzed. I guess when I told her not to move after the accident it proved to be sage advice. She would, however, have to wear a halo brace for six months after they fused the vertebrae in her neck back together. If you don’t know what one of these devices looks like, google it. Suffice it to say they screw four large bolts into your skull to keep your head immobilized. You are locked in it 24 hours a day and if you have sex, the guy risks getting his eye poked out. Trust me on that one.

In the aftermath, my girlfriend had to move back to her father’s house. That made me for all practical purposes, homeless. Thankfully, her father took pity on me and I moved to his house too for a month or two until I could find an apartment. That’s how I initially ended up in West Seattle, my favorite place of all time.

I wasn’t even so lucky as to get a dime in settlement. She was uninsured and had no resources. My attorney had ascertained all that the day after the accident. So the car, the medical bills, the moving expenses — everything — had to come out of our pockets.

I did attend the court hearing. She was charged with all sorts of things, from vehicular assault to reckless driving, speeding and not wearing a seat belt of all things.

When the judge asked her how she pleaded, she responded, “Insanity.”

The judge laughed for a moment, then said you can’t plead insanity in traffic court. She was then asked to approach the bench.

After a brief consultation, the judge sent her back to her place and I will never forget the judge’s words at that moment. “Well, maybe you can plead insanity.”

She was a total nut job. It turns out she believed her car could fly right over ours. That’s why the police couldn’t gauge her speed at the time. There were no skidmarks. She never hit the brakes and was still accelerating at the time she hit us.

I was just lucky that I saw it coming enough to say, “Oh shit.” Otherwise, I would have been hurt as bad as my girlfriend. Perhaps even worse.

Suffice it to say that I have a bit of a love affair with my rear view mirror these days. I keep an eagle eye on it, looking for a crazed Native American who feels like flying.

Out on the Treasure Coast, looking both ways before I cross the street,

– Robb

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