Brace For Impact…!
Last week, I took my car to Culver Automotive…this time for something excellent. My little Mercedes is 32 years old now, and as a result, could use a new coat of paint. Same color, same pin stripes…just looking to make her look like the day she rolled out of the factory.
As is the custom now, Culver Automotive gave me a loaner…a 2000 Toyota Camry. I liked it, and have been driving it for the past week.
Note how that is in the past tense.
I actually took a rare day off of work yesterday, on this Monday. I hadn’t planned to…it just happened. Getting on the Los Angeles 10 East Freeway, and SUV totally cut me off in my loaned Camry. I successfully dodged an impact with that SUV, which peeled off into the sunrise (except it was overcast, and drizzling). The dodging action started a hydroplane, which in turn started an uncontrolled skid across many, many lanes of traffic. An oncoming van won an argument with the Camry, which came to its final rest by the center divider.
I got super lucky. As I type this late Monday night, I don’t have a scratch on me. It was pretty scary, let me tell you.
The owner of Culver Automotive said something to me, when I arrived with the remains of the Camry by tow truck. He said, “So what? You’re my friend, and people can’t be replaced. So long as you’re okay.” I think if people focused on being like that, in these troubled times of ours, the world would be a much much better place.
On the freeway, in the rain, a really kind and friendly CHP officer stopped, to clear traffic and get our statements…get the wrecked cars off the road. The van that hit the Camry (quite scary) was in no condition to continue, but it got a decent distance away before giving up the ghost. I haven’t been in an accident in over a decade, and never one this drastic. The officer that stopped was kind, she smiled and gave assistance, told mild jokes while being efficient. She was exactly the kind of police officer that I was told about when I was a little kid, the kind that helps you when you are in trouble.
Most of them are, I think.
I’m pretty lucky to be alive right now. Things easily could have gone a different way. It’s made me think of the interactions I’ve had with people today, what they were like and what they were all about. That Highway Patrolwoman was a stranger, and treated me with kindness and help. So did my old friend the mechanic. The two people couldn’t be more different, but were guided by the same idea…to just help the person in trouble.
The same rule can be applied to all of our interactions, I think. We can argue on the internet about “big Ideas” and politics and so forth. We can have “causes.” At the end of the day, what might be most important is how we account ourselves to the people that come into our lives, how conscious we are of their feelings and their well being.
Pretty heavy stuff, but I did pretty much give the Grim Reaper a brief Uber ride today, so cut me some slack, True Believers.
It’s not a trivial matter that I need to do my commute tomorrow. Initially, I got a lift home from Culver Automotive, and later in the afternoon, went by to get another loaner vehicle. To be honest, given that the Camry isn’t even car shaped anymore, that was a huge amount of generosity. Still…I’m going to get in a car, and get on the same freeway at roughly the same time. I can’t say that it’s not a slightly scary concept.
By the time most of you read this, I will have done that already. Realistically, it’s a milestone that is most important the first time.
The art, of course, reflects today’s accident. Doing something that you’re pretty confident in, although commuting in Los Angeles is always a bit of a “What happens next?” kind of proposition. Going about it, and then suddenly looking out the window, and seeing something Really Bad coming your way. In the art, it’s some kind of Surface to Air Missile…in my commute it was an SUV and a van, as well as a plethora of other vehicles that were thankfully dodged. Either in reality or heavy handed metaphor, neither of them is very good for your loaner vehicle.
The commute in the second loaner will be in a big ol’ Pontiac. Four doors, and a pretty spacious interior, much like the Camry. I’m figuring that I should feel safe, if only from the size of the vehicle, if nothing else.
My basic thought for the day comes down to this: Be Excellent To Each Other, True Believers.