Down the Road a Piece
Allergic to accidents
Several years ago our primary care physician told me that I was allergic to car accidents.
So, of course, heeding his medical advice, I’ve tried to avoid them. Actually, I’ve only had one, one where I was sitting still, but the guy who rear-ended me wasn’t.
But what brought this to mind was a bus passenger’s telling us the other morning that someone had rear-ended his wife’s car.
“Probably using a cell phone or texting,” I commented.
“Could well be,” he said.
He then said that his wife had been sitting still, waiting to turn left at a Dunkin’ Donuts, and a car had come up behind her and hit her car hard enough to actually bounce a little, causing her car to do the same.
She wasn’t hurt, he added, always a nice outcome.
Her car’s roof had been bent, he said, and the tow-truck operated declared it a total loss because of the bent roof.
He didn’t tell me whether or not his wife had gotten her donut.
As I drive and watch folks, who must have IQs of approximately 60, do really stupid things on the highway, I wonder why there aren’t accidents every minute or so. Maybe in national statistics, there are. I just know I’ve almost gotten used to what not-so-bright drivers will do and at times can predict it.
Using cell phones or texting or stupidity. Which is the most common cause? Or are they all the same?
Not knowing, I can at least bore you with the tale of when I was also rear-ended over in South Paris.
I had been assigned to cover a speech by Nancy Reagan, not an assignment I was anticipating with any positive fervor. But that was canceled by my accident, which occurred on the morning of my afternoon assignment.
Which may demonstrate that at times good comes from bad. Or it may just demonstrate that the driver who hit me wasn’t paying attention. Your choice on that.
I was sitting at a red light, when I felt a strange sensation. I was moving but my foot was tight on the brake. About the time the sensation passed, I realized my little old Ford Falcon wagon had been hit from behind.
The driver walked up to my window and apologized.
“I’m from Massachusetts. I didn’t know there were any traffic lights in Maine,” he said.
“This is the only one,” I responded.
I think my brain hadn’t been damaged, because I think I remember fibbing as a bit of frivolity. Or maybe my brain had been damaged, and I’m remembering the entire incident wrongly.
I then remember driving around the corner and into the high school drive, where I went into the school to phone my paper -- in those long-ago days before cell phones.
A student looked at me and told me my forehead was bleeding. I remember, rightly or wrongly, commenting that, yes, it may well have been bleeding, because the mosquitoes were thick that spring.
My publisher told me I couldn’t attend the speech and that I should go home and take a nap, if I didn’t think I was seriously injured.
I enjoyed that nap.
And the insurance company gave me the choice of having the wagon’s rear end rebuilt or their declaring the car totaled. I ended with all the rusty parts of the rear end replaced, resulting in as fine a car as a rear-end-rebuilt old Ford Falcon could be. (I drove it until I finally sold the poor old beast for $25.)
I covered someone else’s accident in South Paris for the paper. I parked below a bank that led up to the road where the accident had occurred. I had just climbed out of the car, when a big, burly cop grabbed me from behind, carried me up the bank, and told me to take photos of the tire tracks.
“I need those pictures before someone comes along and spoils them,” he said.
I always had a good relationship with the police.
After attending a fire at the county jail one morning, I was talking with a town cop when his pager went off and he told me he had to rush off to an accident a couple of hundred yards away. He went out to the parking lot to find that another police officer had taken his cruiser.
I took him to the accident and got good photos.
I learned once again at that “10-55” how quickly an accident can happen. The driver had taken his eyes from the road for a second or two and ended up against a utility pole.
I came across a young lady standing alongside the road one night, right after her car had gone off the road and down the bank. I took her to the nearest house to report the accident. During the ride she told me her father was a deputy and would be really angry at her for having the accident.
When I phoned the sheriff, I explained the young driver’s fear. The sheriff assured me that the father would express no anger about the accident.
I never heard that he had.
About 2 a.m., I met a town policeman at another accident scene along a country road, where a teenager had rolled his ancient Chevy.
“We’ve got to stop meeting this way,” the officer commented.
I no longer write news for a newspaper.
Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Milton M. Gross Copyright 2013