“You comfortable back there?” officer Kernan asks. From the backseat of his squad car I yell through the bullet proof glass that I’m fine.
Actually though, I could use a little more leg room and the temperature is a bit steamy. But comfort is not what the sheriff’s office had in mind for passengers in the back of their cruisers. When I think about the alternative ways in which I could have left the accident scene – ambulance or hearse – the discomforts usually reserved for criminals are just fine.
I’m catching a courtesy ride to my office after having been run off the road this morning – and not just slightly off the road either. I bounced and slid 200 yards out of sight and down into a ravine. In fact, officer Kernan’s first question after arriving on the scene was “Where’s your car?”
I stayed upright and walked away from the wild ride unscathed, but my car got the shit beat out of it as I jumped gullies, ran over logs, and sheared the tops off rocks before fizzling to a stop completely out of sight from the road. It easily could have rolled, flipped, or collided with a tree – thoughts of such possibilities will inevitably wake me in the dead of night sometime soon.
As I crested a hill, a small white car was completely in my lane and aimed right at me. Survival instinct took over. The combined speed at which our vehicles were approaching each other had to be 90 mph. A violent head-on collision or a violent off road adventure? Pick your poison.
After walking out of the ravine and back toward the road, I was a bit surprised by how few fellow commuters were concerned with my well-being. A couple had pulled over, but neither of them was the little white car that caused all my fun. After confirming that I was OK, and after waving the concerned drivers on, it was just me in a dewy field all alone making calls to 911, my wife, and my insurance company.
Twenty Five Minutes Later…
As officer Kernan and I made small talk, the driver from the wrecker service wandered the accident scene taking pictures and videos of my distant car and consulting with the home office. This was a more complex job than first thought. Ultimately, a second truck and expert were needed to figure out the right extraction plan, which was quite an engineering accomplishment, I must confess. Cables, wenches, hydraulics and the ingenuity of two good old boys got the job done.
From the backseat of the squad car on the way to my office, I wondered if I should be thankful to be alive. Perhaps that’s a bit too dramatic of a position to take in regard to this accident. Had the car barrel rolled or had the poison I chose involved a head-on collision, I’d certainly feel thankful to be alive. But through 29 years of commuting to work, which amounts to over a half-million miles driven, if the worst is a wild, off-road ride leaving me unscathed, I’ll take it.