I don't know whether to lose my faith completely, or to have more faith than ever. Because someone down there either really has it in for me, or someone up there really likes me.
I got into another accident today, not two hours ago. This, after the first accident (on July 2, 2001) finally got settled (I had to pay $69 for failure to exhibit ID/proof of insurance) just two days ago. It'd have to be me.
Let me back up a bit:
I had to go in to school today to help my boss set up a practical exam. I called my fiance when I was about to leave, and we decided on fast food for dinner. We went out together when I got home. The Checkers was about 15 minutes away, and I thought the White Castle was on the way. As it turns out, it wasn't, and I wound up making Jersey lefts to turn around on Route 9 about 6 times before we finally got near the White Castle. I missed the first turn off for the parking lot, but I noticed another one, and put my turn signal on, slowed down, and started getting onto the shoulder. I was almost on the shoulder, not 20 feet from the parking lot, when BAM! and I got shoved forward onto the curb, across the entrance to the parking lot, and onto the grass adjacent. I put the car in park and just sat there for a few minutes. Chris, on the other hand, jumped right out of the car. People came running over from the florist's next door.
By the time I got myself out of the car, the cops had been called, and the other driver was outside his car (parked straddling the curb), huddled on the ground. His front end on the passenger side was crumpled, and there was shrapnel everywhere. Only then did I look at our car, which I'd been driving. The rear taillight on the driver's side was destroyed, and the quarter panel was mangled.
The police arrived, and we gave them all of the car information and my driver's license, and they called for tow trucks and an ambulance. I looked up to see that the other guy was wearing an oxygen mask; he must've hit his chest on the steering wheel and had the air knocked out of him. (The cop overheard him telling his friend that he hadn't been wearing a seat belt, but he didn't tell the cops that.) And simultaneously, we wondered why we needed a tow; the cop pointed out to us that the front passenger tire had been blown out, probably on impact with the curb.
Frantic phone calls were made to everyone we knew who had a car and whose phone number we had; Chris's aunt was too far away, our friends in Queens couldn't have gotten there in any decent amount of time, and our friend in Staten Island couldn't be reached.
The ambulance arrived, and no one wanted to go. Not even the guy on the oxygen wanted to take a ride, and he looked pretty hurt. I didn't want to pay for it, and Chris doesn't have insurance, and while we were both shaken, we weren't injured obviously, and we didn't want to leave each other, so we declined. I kept thinking that the other guy should have gone, but they couldn't force him, so he didn't go.
They towed the cars, and the police finished up with Chris while I went in and got the White Castles we had gone to get in the first place. When I reemerged with a Crave Case, Chris told me that he'd gotten a case number from the police, and that the police had told him that it was probably the other guy's fault, given our respective speeds and the fact that I had my signal on AND had the right-of-way AND was almost on the shoulder (the tire marks showed that).
We went over to the florist's next door, and they were nice enough to let us use their phone (they'd seen everything and ran out of the store when it happened). We tried to call a cab to get us at least to the train station; the only company that even answered the damn phone wanted us to wait for 45 minutes at least.
We got to talking with one of the people that was working in the store in the meantime, and she offered to give us a ride if we could wait until the store closed in 20 minutes; we readily agreed. While we were standing around, chatting, she mentioned that some guy who was in the store at the time and had come running over had been an off-duty EMT and had given the other driver some minor treatment. While he had been over there, he noticed "something very interesting" in the car. What that meant, I don't know, but it certainly explained why the guy declined a hospital visit.
So the woman from the florist's shop took us to the train station, and we came home. Thank you, Diane.
I know that I am grateful that nothing worse happened. So far, I've been in two accidents, and both times, I think I got extremely lucky. Last time, very briefly, I was at a stop sign, and a guy came flying down the cross street and turned left directly into my driver's side quarter panel, breaking the headlight and crushing the bumper. If I had been six feet further into the intersection, I'd be dead. I'd have had an engine block for a lower torso. This time, if I'd not decided to pull over, or if I'd decelerated more quickly, we both could have been seriously injured or worse, or more people could have been involved or both.
I suppose I should be thankful. I should be glad I'm alive. I know I'm glad everyone else is alive. I should be thankful. Instead I feel guilty. I feel guilty for not having tried harder to prevent the accident. I feel guilty for not having gone by myself before I came home, in which case this never would have happened. I feel guilty because I still feel like it's my fault, even though it was out of my control.
I'm alive, though.
I suppose that makes me lucky.
Somehow, it doesn't seem like luck.