Knee deep...I looked down at my arms. Still attached. Excellent. Blood? None. Car still running? Hmm. Maybe I can just drive out of the ditch. Nope. Smell of gas? Check.
I asked myself this: Do cars really explode after accidents? No answer.
I turned off the ignition and opened the door - motivated by the B-movie feeling that I might blow up in an entirely anticlimactic fashion. I crawled out of the car, and stood for a moment, knee deep in itchy brown grass. How unpleasant, I thought.
I had quite a trek back to the edge of the highway, through a swamp and up a hill, but people met me halfway. Since they were so excited about running into the swamp to rescue me, I thought I'd just take my time and assess the damage.
The car was nestled in the forest, about 12 inches from the nearest large tree and suspended comfortably on top of a smaller one which had been unfortunate enough to get in my way. You know, I really felt bad for that little tree. A transport truck, a family van and a sedan pulled over, its passengers all asking me the same questions. Everyone else just gawked as they drove past.
The truck driver offered me a bottle of water and everyone called 911. I insisted that all I needed was a tow truck, but passers-by who had witnessed the three 360s and backward plunge into the boreal forest at 100+ km/hour were unconvinced.The 401 highway is, after all, one of the most dangerous stretches of road in Canada.
It took about 30 minutes for the local emergency respondents to arrive - an all-volunteer gaggle. I apologized for ruining their Saturday afternoon, but one local woman assured me that I was just lucky I caught them before they started drinking beer. This was the same woman who hugged me while still in the swamp and wailed: "OH MY GOD!!!! IF YOU WERE MY DAUGHTER...!!! IF YOU WERE MY DAUGHTER...!!!"
Apparently I wasn't the only woman in shock. We hugged for so long that I realized I was doing it to make *her* feel better.
The volunteer firemen and ambulance attendants totaled about 10 men. They stared at me for a while and then trudged down to the ditch to check out the car. One-by-one they noted the proximity of the car to the large trees and told me I'd obviously used up all my 'lottery luck'. Another fireman referred to the accident as a "3-coupon fair ride."
They then planted themselves on top of the car and chatted. With several large men sitting on the hood, I was worried they might dent it. Then I took a good look at the situation and realized it was better to simply seize the photo opportunity. I posed, in front of the firemen, trying to look as indifferent as possible. I'll post the picture as soon as it's developed.
Then the police arrived - two handsome young bucks in aviators. I was never so glad I'd worn a skirt. The entire process was made very easy for me. A little flirting, a little signing of the accident report, a little flirting. He later insisted that I drive with him back to the nearest town where my car would be towed, because it would be more comfortable than the truck. He even put in a good word for me with the mechanic.
You see, I was only 2 hours into an 8 hour drive, on my way to a family reunion in the suburbs of Toronto. I had to get there that same afternoon, and the mechanics were all backed up. With a little pleading - and with the law on my side - my car was given top priority and put on the lift immediately. About an hour later I was told that my brake line had completely rusted out - contributing to my loss of control. I had no brakes. Apparently this is a common glitch for Hondas - and I mention that as a warning to those of you who have one.
I endured 3 hours of heckling by the mechanics and a discussion about God's Grand Plan. The work manager at the garage told me that God didn't intend to kill me, he was just trying to put things in perspective. I felt like Joan of Arcadia.
I drove the remaining 6 hours listening to old, mellow Bob Marley, desperately trying to stay calm and focussed as I navigated the Machine of Potential Death over the Ontario highways. I was in awe. It had taken approximately 20 people to come together to help me in order for me to be back on the road that day. Each of them mentioned both God and Luck. I couldn't help but notice that the section of highway where I'd spun off the road was the only stretch that wasn't bordered by a cement wall median or rock cliffs. It was either God - or the gap in the Canadian Shield that saved me.
I was emotionally vulnerable, a religious mush. Had a Pentecostal Minister been present, I probably would have sold him my soul. Fortunately, God had mercy and let me off at sending Thank You cards.
The day left me physically unmarked - merely a mosquito bite - and emotionally gooey.
How strange then, that a simple after-wedding party last weekend left me with massive bruising on my legs and scratches on my belly as a result of a sinking paddle boat incident. Sinking a paddle boat is supposed to be impossible.
God works in mysterious ways, indeed.
It proves that we have a responsibility as creatures of the Earth to learn from situations like these. And, that is why I am accepting it as my mission in life to spread The Word: God hates paddle boats.