We just drove past the site of my fateful accident from the first night of Chanukah 2000. After I retold the story to Shu, I decided it was a blog story. And typing it up in Word would give me something to do while we drive. So here you are….
It was a cold wintery night………I was on my way to Pittsburgh from New York for Mayer’s bar-mitzvah. I was with 2 friends and twins that called to ask for a ride. Twin M and Twin T. We were driving at night and after a few hours, I was exhausted. So Twin T offered to drive. I was very protective of my “Baby Car” which was a red 1990 Geo Prism that had belonged to my Dad. Since these twins seemed to be responsible, good people, I assumed (and you know what happens when you ASS U ME) that they were responsible and good drivers too. Perhaps Twin M is. But maybe not since they are identical so aren’t they from the same egg? Maybe they have the same driving traits? But that’s more than I really want to think about.
Back to my Baby Car. Twin T offered to drive and I asked if he had insurance and will he be very careful. And most important, if he breaks my baby car will he fix it???? And he said YES. I should have had him sign on the dotted line. So there we were. Twin T driving with Twin M in the front passenger seat. And me and my two friends in the back seat. I was fast asleep before we even left the parking lot. But as I was drifting off, I remember wondering if I should put my seat belt on. I was sooo tired and it would take a lot of maneuvering because we were all smushed in the back seat. So I decided not to bother anyone by making them move and I thought, “I’m sure nothing will happen anyway.” Famous last words?
BAM…..BAM…..BAM…. I thought I was back in Israel. Driving back to Jerusalem with Eli after dropping my mom off at the airport. Eli falls asleep at the wheel and we hit the guardrail. Good thing it was there. Because there was a cliff on the other side.
Then I realize I am not in Israel with Eli. I am in my Baby car and we are swerving back and forth on the road. The next thing I see is a forest and I think we are going over the side of the road, into the forest. We’re going to hit a tree and I wonder if death will hurt. Will it be quick? How will it happen?
My head is hitting the ceiling of the car and against the door. And I keep repeating some choice words as the car spins around and around and around until we smash into the guardrail and go a few more feet……
We didn’t die.
We tumbled out of the car and I asked if everybody was ok. The entire night trucks had been speeding along that road and for the minute that it took for the accident to happen, the road was clear. Since it was right outside of a tunnel, no one could see coming out. And the accident could have been a lot worse. I saw the side of the car was a little smashed in and the tire was flat. I just kept saying, ok, it’s not so bad. At least everyone is ok. Thank G-d everyone is ok. Then I saw the trunk open and our bags all over the road. I walked behind the car and saw the real damage. It made me feel sick. It was like looking at a horrible wound. I finally had to look away.
We were all pretty dazed but had to get our heads together. Someone collected the bags from the road, we tried to flag down passing cars and trucks but no one stopped. There was a sign nearby that said NO CALL BOXES NEXT 50 MILES. My friend’s phone had no reception. My battery was dead and charger didn’t work. And while the roads were clear, there was about a foot of snow everywhere else. We saw a house with no lights on across the highway and about ¼ mile back, a building of some sort. So we figured we would just have to hike over there. We left one twin and one friend with the car. We told them they may not want to sit in it because it’s dripping stuff all over and we thought it might explode (after all that is what happens in the movies). But then again, it was freezing outside. So it was their call. The 3 of us began the hike.
We got to the building which turned out to be a maintenance building for the Penn turnpike. They called the cops and we called my friend’s dad to come pick us up. But there was a blizzard in Pittsburgh so he wasn’t happy about it. He ended up coming with my friend’s sister and since the road to Pittsburgh was bad, they wanted to stay in a motel for the night and finish the drive in the morning. But there was only one available motel room. Well, guess who got the room. My friend, her sister, and my friend’s dad. We lit the Chanukah menorah and thanked G-d for our Chanukah miracle. Then the rest of us slept in the car. And we could only turn the heat on for a few minutes every half an hour. What the ????
To make what turned into a very long story – somewhat shorter, I had a slight concussion and was sick as a dog at the bar-mitzvah. I ended up in the hospital later that week for what turned out to be (figured out months later) two herniated discs in my lower back. Luckily, I had good health insurance. But neither insurance (not mine nor his) would pay for the damage to the car. It was a couple thousand dollars of damage and a few hundred more to keep it at the garage until I decided what to do with it. Which was basically have it taken to a junkyard.
Things got pretty ugly between me and Twin T. He refused to take responsibility for anything and tried blaming it on the road, black ice, my (new) tires, my car, anything he could think of. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if he fell asleep at the wheel or was just going too fast. The cop could not find any ice (black or otherwise) on the road and said Twin T must have been speeding coming out of the tunnel and around a turn. Twin T says the cop is wrong and it was just a fluke.
I know I won’t forget the miracle of the first night of Chanukah. I’m lucky to be alive. We all are. I just wish my Baby Car could be here with us.
And kinda wish certain people would learn to take responsibility for their actions…………….not that I am bitter. No, not at all……
Oh yah, ALWAYS BUCKLE UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!