Crawling From The Wreckage
by Michele Christopher
It's Car Week here at FTTW!
Yes, we are starting our week on Saturday instead of Monday. We can do that. Our bylaws say so. Right under the "you must be here three months to access the moonshine still" rule.
Tomorrow, we're going to have a really fun car poll as The Almost Final Countdown comes back. And we'll have some fun car stuff the rest of the week as well. Yep, we remember when we used to write about cars a lot (it's how FTTW got started, after all) and we miss it as much as you. So you're gonna get a full dose of the vroom vroom stuff this coming week.
We're gonna start you off with our editor's picks. This week's theme is loose - we just said - write something cool about cars. At least three of us are writing about our "favorite" crashes.
You'll notice that there are five editor's picks this week instead of four. Please welcome Dan of Don't Go In There as the newest editor of FTTW. HI DAN!
And now, on with the car crash show. -M
I've been in quite a few car wrecks in my time, but this one is still fresh in my mind. Let's go back to March 2006 (inster wavy lines here).
It is a Friday. The last day of the most stressful week of my entire life. No exaggeration there. I am frazzled, on edge and probably within inches of beating a random person just for the hell of it. Hell week, as it were. And it ends like this:
I'm driving home from work, headed east on a four lane road. I have ODB on the stereo and I'm a little jacked up on caffeine and sleepless nights and stress. My senses are heightened. Ever tweak? That's what this feels like. My hair is standing up on end. I'm ready to jump out of my skin. There's something in the air. Something's gonna happen. I can taste the electricity on my tongue. It tastes like battery acid.
I do a little ass shaking in my seat as Baby I Got Your Money ends. I change XM stations and ODB morphs into Black Flag as I drive across a main intersection. Up in front of me, a school bus has stopped. It's facing against me. Westbound. It's got flashing lights going and its stop sign is moved out from the bus like a long arm of the law. And you listen to that arm. It says that traffic going in all directions must make a full stop and wait for the bus driver to turn the lights off and retract that long arm before proceeding. That's the law.
The car in front of me stops.
The car behind me stops.
I glance in my rear view mirror. The utility truck coming across the intersection? It's not gonna stop.
I know what's going to happen before it actually does. I watch an ugly scene unfold in my mirror. The truck plows into the car behind me.
And then I brace myself for the inevitable. I know what's coming. I remember that you are supposed to go slack at a time like this. Don't tense up. You'll suffer less damage that way. Well, hell. I'm already tensed up. There is no chance of my body - having been in fight mode all week long - going slack, not even with the knowledge of what's coming. I see the car coming at me, the truck pushing it forward like Mr. Plow pushes snow. Slack is not an option here. I'm stiffer than...well, I'm stiff.
I watch. I wait. I know that car behind me is going to be plunged forward. I know it's gonna smash right into me. I do a brief mental check. No holes in my underwear. I shaved my legs this morning. I figure I'm going to go through the windshield (yes, I was wearing a seatbelt and yes, I was being over dramatic). This all has taken place in about ten seconds, by the way. It's amazing what your mind can conjure up when you think you are about to become airborne through some glass. Or killed. Or crushed.
And then it happens. Basically, the car behind me fucks my car up the ass. That's what I am thinking as I lurch forward on impact. Automobile butt sex. That's going to be my dying thought. Thank Christ no one but me knows that.
I'm not even close to going through the window, though. Really, the whole crash part of the incident is kind of anti-climatic. My car moves about two feet forward. Stops. Still running. Rollins still singing on the stereo. I sit there and take stock of what's happened. I'm more pissed than hurt. All the fear seeps out of me and is replaced with renewed stress, anger, annoyance, desire to kill random people, etc. The whole damn week comes rushing back at me and I decide that this guy driving the truck - and not some random, innocent hobo - is going to suffer the consequences of it all.
I get out of the car. The lady in the car behind me is holding her neck and moaning. Typical post-accident stance. I go see if she's ok, she says she's fine, but she's sure something bad happened to her neck or back. She's laying it on pretty thick and looking around to make sure any available witnesses hear her moans and cries. Some guy is calling 911.
So here comes the jackass truck driver. I look at him and just shake my head like you do at a kid who disappointed you by sticking bugs in the microwave.
He says: "What? You came to a stop in the middle of the fucking road!" I hear Turtle's voice in my head. Calm Michele. Remain calm.
I say, very slowly: "There was a school bus stopped here."
He says: "Where?"
Ok, this is going well. I explain to him that there was a stopped school bus. He looks confused. I explain again, using my best "you must be retarded" voice, that you must stop for a school bus when the lights are flashing. That confused look on his face again. He insists there were no flashing lights. Then he says he was distracted by the sound of a horn beeping. Then he says it's not his fault. Then he starts blaming everything but his own stupidity. Sun glare. Cross traffic. Global warming. Aliens. As he's blabbering about who else is to blame for his mistake, it dawns on me that he has the look and mannerisms of what Beavis would be like grown up. As he talks, I just see Beavis. He's making another excuse, something about the space time continuum, I think. I walk away from him because I'm about ready to kick him in the nuts. I call Turtle because I need my nerves calmed.
The cops arrive and we all pull our vehicles over to the side of the road. We're standing outside of our cars, just waiting for the cops to finish talking to the drama queen with the alleged broken neck, spine, legs and uterus. I swear that's what she said.
Beavis comes over to me, his hands stuffed into the pockets of his dirty jeans. He looks like a chagrined child who just realized that maybe putting ants in the microwave to see if god would save them was not a good idea. See, god doesn't save them. And god doesn't save idiots from themselves.
"I guess you're kind of mad at me?" he says.
I stare at him. "Mad? I get mad at people I know. I don't know you. I just think you're an idiot."
He comes closer, looks at the ID I'm wearing on a chain around my neck. "Oh you work at the court, huh?" I say nothing.
He stares down my shirt. I move over about five feet. He follows me.
"So it's Friday. You headed home or what?" That Beavis look on his face. Still staring blatantly stares down my shirt.
I'm thinking "What the fuck?" but not saying a word. I zipper up my jacket and go over to inspect the damage to my car. Beavis follows, starts to say something to me, but the cop comes over and asks for his license, registration and insurance. Beavis chooses D: none of the above. The cop is obviously annoyed by this. I think of Beavis singing. Breakin the Law, breakin the law!
I go sit in my car for twenty minutes while paperwork is filled out. I wait, I wait, I wait. Beavis paces back and forth by my car, glancing in and giving me strange looks. Then the cops call in his info, all the time shaking their head or calling him back to yell at him. He has no answers to their questions. He seems to not know a hell of a lot more than he knows. He keeps walking past my car and looking in, smiling. Weird smile. Like "I just fucked with your head and I am really enjoying that." Creepy.
The cops finally give me back my license. I can go home now. End this fucking day. End this fucking week. There is a bottle of Jack Daniels at home with my name on it and I am planning on bathing in it when I walk in the door.
I start my car and I see Beavis is sitting in the squad car. The policemen are going through his work truck. Searching it with purpose and determination. Beavis's weird grin is gone.
I drive past the squad car, roll down my window and give Beavis - and the whole damn week, by extension - the finger.