Saturday, February 25, 2012

And Then I Wrecked My Car

In case you haven't been following, it has been quite a week for me. I found out I am getting laid off, scrambled to fill my week with interviews and meetings, initiated talks with HR regarding my severance package, had lunch and dinner and happy hour plans every day, went on four dates, and that was all before I left for a two day interview marathon with my hopefully-soon-to-be-new-employer where I negotiated an offer which I have yet to receive in writing.

I slept maybe 5 hours each night, and my schedule was back to back to back with work obligations, social obligations, necessary errands such as dry cleaning and doctor appointments and Apple genius appointments, and so on. I wanted to slow down but I had no choice; I was headed to my parents' for a week on Saturday, so I had to get all that stuff crammed in.

So after my ridiculous whirlwind of what may have been the most stressful week of my life, I woke up at 8am Saturday, packed a bag in less than 40 minutes, and hit the road for a much needed relaxing week back home for Christmas. All I wanted to do was get home as quickly as possible so that I could relax.

A couple of hours outside of Dallas I was going about 80 mph and passing an 18 wheeler in the left lane when my youngest dog decided to leap into my lap. She jostled my right arm so that the wheel - and car - swerved right toward the truck. I overcorrected left as I tried to fling her into the passenger seat, and I lost control of the car. I swerved back and forth for several seconds and almost regained control, but when I realized I couldn't I headed for the median. Luckily there was about 20 feet of grass before a big concrete retaining wall, and I figured I could maybe just coast to a stop in the grass.

No such luck. When my front left wheel hit the mud, the car started to spin. I stayed calm, oddly, and remember taking a deep breath and just thinking, resigned: "shit."

My car slammed into the retaining wall, the impact occurring on the front right side of the car. It's actually a good thing I spun around or the impact would have been right by my driver door. The airbags didn't go off, and I briefly thought maybe the car would be drivable and I could just get back on the road. But then I hopped out and observed the smashed front of the car, sans bumper, with liquid pouring out and steam rising up from the crumpled hood.

Several cars stopped to make sure I was OK, which I was. I called the police, then my mom, then AAA, and a nice man waited with me until the firetruck arrived. The EMTs left as soon as they verified that I really wasn't hurt, but the firemen insisted on blocking the left lane, which caused traffic to back up, even though we were well off the road. It's protocol, apparently.

One of the firemen talked to my AAA representative and asked if they could take me to a nearby gas station to wait for the tow truck driver, which could take up to an hour. So me and my dogs piled into the firetruck. Then they decided to take me to the station instead, where at least there is a TV - since I'd be waiting for my dad for several hours they thought I'd be most comfortable there.

They knew the wrecker that was likely to be called, so they radioed him to direct him to tow the car without me and bring it to the station for me to sign the ticket. He did, and then the firemen left me - alone! - at the fire station to wait for my parents. They wrote their cell numbers on the white board and headed home to spend time with their families. After a few photos with my dogs by the firetrucks and uniforms, I plopped down to update Facebook and start making calls.

But then one of the firemen showed back up, with his wife in tow. They wanted to take me to lunch, and I graciously accepted. They drove me and the dogs to their house to let my dogs hang out in their backyard, then we went to lunch at a cute country diner, and then they took me to the wreck yard to get my suitcase out of the car (which I'd forgotten to do earlier when they came by with the car). By the time we got back to the station my dad was only 20 minutes away. I had just enough time to call Progressive and file the insurance claim over the phone before he picked me up.

In short everyone was incredibly nice and supportive, from the AAA folks to the insurance company to the local fire and rescue people and those who stopped to make sure I was OK. I slipped into the back seat of my dad's car in the closest thing to shock/coma that I've ever experienced, and I slept for most of the next two days.

So here I am back in action. I found out my car has been deemed a total loss, and I'll get just over $13K for the 2006 Volvo I paid $23K for five years ago (it was slightly used when I bought it). I just wish I hadn't just paid for $2K in maintenance earlier this month. But I AM grateful that I somehow remembered to renew my car insurance the day before leaving for my trip. If I'd forgotten then my insurance would have been expired by 2 days when the accident occurred.

Of course I am most grateful that no one else was involved and that somehow I managed to steer away from the heavy traffic when I lost control. Any accident involving other cars would have been completely my fault, and I'm not sure I could have handled that on top of everything else.

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