No, that would not be my choice of The Great Goodbye. Having a black monster truck flying through the air at the front of my van, debris scattering everywhere after ramming the back end of a truck in the next lane a little ahead of me.
Thursday morning, rush hour, headed to babysit grandson. No one nearby except the white truck ahead in the other lane. It took 5 seconds or likely less for the monster truck going the other way to hit the median and launch madly and absurdly in the air toward our van before coming to a stop, parallel, lengthwise, in front of the van. For me, in those 5 seconds, there was nowhere else to go, no move to make. I had been cast in a limited role and certain collision fate not of my making or choosing, involving being in that place, at that time. A case of real bad timing.
Now usually, I call my own shots and make my own choices happily. But there was no choice in this episode except to brake quickly. Nowhere else to go. I was suddenly thrust into the middle of an unreal action movie scene.
Somehow the driver braked and his truck, surreally, did not flip when his tires briefly hit the concrete on our side of the street. Magically, too, the truck stopped perfectly parallel to the front of our van about one foot away. When I got out, I expected damage to the front of the van because of all the flying debris from the collision with the white truck. None. Not a mark.
I went around to the driver’s side but his windows were steamed and I could see nothing but a sheet of white (rag or paper towel over his face?) while two guys who had seen the whole thing, including the accident he’d earlier triggered, yammering “Don’t let him out. Don’t help him.” They obviously blamed him for the two accidents and wanted to keep him inside till the cops showed up. One of them was dialling the report in as I left to go on.
It is still hard today to comprehend the timing and luck in this event. The randomness, the sudden horror, the absurdity of being thrust involuntarily into someone else’s stupidly-created car-crash movie.
But what got me most is the 5 second or less window and the thought that this might have been really The End as well as the last bit of consciousness I might have had, had the truck followed through on its direct-hit line for the van. It looked like a sure thing with no exit.
I have often commented that, In the midst of life, we are always in the midst of death, but it’s the loss of choice and control yesterday, and the awfulness of the timing and horrific chaos of that five-seconds moment from hell that is frankly way more disturbing than actual death itself.