Monday, March 20, 2006

An Ominous journey

My wife and I spent this past week in Montgomery, Alabama visiting old friends (which explains my absense here). It was a lovely visit, but the travel was quite a thing.

There is a bit of a long road leading out of our home that curves and twists just before reaching the main highway. It is a very dangerous intersection that is desperately in need of a traffic light. Pulling closer to the intersection I noticed a city bus pulled over to the side of the road. The angle was a little off and I couldn’t make out if it was stopped in the road, thus blocking my way, or far enough to the side to allow me space.

As I approached, I could see that it was out of the way, and by looking underneath the bus I could see a rather damaged mini van on the other side of the bus. Realizing there must have been an accident, I approached with caution.

Riding past the bus I rubbernecked to see the damage. I wish I hadn’t. Lying just to the side of the road was a rather large person in blue sweatpants and a red t-shirt. Face down and not moving I couldn’t tell whether this person was alive or badly injured. A man and a woman were both standing near by beginning to attend to this person. Seeing that the paramedics were on there way, and knowing there was nothing I could do I drove on feeling sick and bleak towards a rough start to our trip.

Miles down the interstate I saw another accident. This time it was well after the fact, as the police and ambulances had taken care of any injured, leaving only smashed up vehicles to the side.

After our vacation we headed home Saturday evening. Somewhere in northern Alabama I gave my wife the driver’s seat so that I could get a little rest. I normally do most of the driving on our trips, but she is very helpful when I need a break and does some excellent driving.

Around 9:30 in the PM driving on I-65 in southern Tennessee with virtually no traffic about a dog ran straight in front of the car.

My wife jammed the brakes and veered sharply to the left. The anti-lock brakes locked up and we skidded sharply into the left lane, missing the dog.

My initial thoughts were there’s a dog. As the brakes locked I thought we should have just hit the dog.

The car skidded off the road into the medium between the highways. There had been a rain recently and we slid quickly through the muddy grass.

My wife excitedly cursed and called out to me.

I remained rather calm, taking the wheel while I tried to remember if you are supposed to turn into the swerve or against it. At this point I remember thinking that my wife should let her foot off the brake and pump it instead. Yet I knew that if I said anything to her it might cause her to panic even more and cause more harm.

Instead I held the wheel and kept saying that it was going to be ok.

The car fishtailed to the left and then turned 90 degrees facing our end of the interstate. We climbed the embankment and stopped just short of entering the interstate again.

A kind off duty fireman stopped to ensure we were ok. We check out the tires and checked underneath to make sure nothing was leading or broken. We drove the car back onto the interstate and made the rest of the trip a bit shaken, but unscathed.

Thinking back on my reactions I’m kind of proud of myself. I remained very calm. I wasn’t ever worried that we were going to cause serious harm to ourselves. I took the wheel and helped steer, I didn’t shout which would have cause my wife to be more nervous, but calmly spoke to her that it would be ok. The only concern I really had was that we would blow a tire, which would cause us a long delay in our return home.

We’re now home, safe and sound.

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