Last spring, I had a car accident. In the past, I've scratched the truck trying to get it through the back gate, and I did have one fender-bender early on in my driving career, but this was nothing like those accidents.
The Captain was miraculously home that day. He was on a week of leave between a month-long exercise and a 2-month-long course. So Rosemary's Baby was home with him, and Firstborn was at nursery school. I still look back on this in wonder and amazement, since the route I took that day would, 99% of the time, find both kids in the car with me. If I could pick out one day of my life where God stood up and proved his existence to me, this would be it.
I was driving to a doctor's appointment, down a rural, unpaved road with a speed limit that I now consider dangerous and ridiculous. I was doing 10 km/hr over that limit because I was running late and panicking about it. After rounding a curve, something happened. I may have hit a pothole (the condition of that road is routinely atrocious), or I may have just turned the wheel a little too hard on the curve. I don't know. What I do know is that I was driving too fast. The back end of our Hyundai Elantra started to fishtail. I tried to steer my way out of the problem, but I overcorrected and the wheels locked. At 100 km/hr, my car spun 180 degrees onto the gravel shoulder, then rolled a full 360 degrees, landing on its now completely flat wheels into the ditch. When the car rolled, amid the smashing of glass and flying around of everything inside the car, I could feel my seatbelt holding me in securely. It didn't completely protect me from a nasty bump to the head that left me mildly concussed for about a week, and with neck pain for a good month afterwards, but considering I hear about similar accidents killing people my age and younger almost every weekend, I commend my seatbelt on a job well done.
To make a long story short, I walked away (with the help of a lovely couple who turned out to be related to my next-door neighbour. Small world!) with a few cuts and bruises, most of my belongings were thrown from the vehicle, the car was absolutely totalled, and the Captain was none too pleased with me once it was determined that I wasn't dead or dying.
Since that time, I've noted 2 things about this incident. The first is the friendliness of Manitobans. That route is not a busy one at all. It is used mostly by military members who live a few miles off base, and by local farmers. I was stuck by the side of the road for about an hour while the Captain dealt with the insurance people for me, and I'd estimate about 20 cars came by during that time. Though I was, at this time, just pacing by the side of the road waiting for things to happen, clearly unhurt and not needing medical attention, not one car that passed me just kept on going. Every single one of them stopped to see if I needed assistance. I can think of a few major cities in North America where I'd have been more likely to get mugged.
The second thing that struck me about this accident is WHY it happened. Sure, I'm a lousy driver (for the record, I now drive like a little old lady), but I was a lousy driver for 17 years before this happened, so something bigger was at work here. For years and years, I have lived in fear of inconveniencing people, putting them out, and ultimately having them (horrors!) not like me! I go out of my way not to need assistance from my friends and neighbours unless it's absolutely unavoidable. I'm way more friendly than I need to be with the people who ring up my order at the store and thank them profusely for bagging up my milk for me. This incident was exactly like that.
I tore down that road because I was 5 minutes late. And for the sake of 5 minutes of inconvenience (for a doctor who wouldn't have rolled in to check my pee sample until I'd been sitting there for 20 minutes anyway!), I nearly killed myself, forever ruined my driving record, incurred an $8000 insurance claim and created 10 miserable weeks of stress and inconvenience for the entire family (the Captain refused to let me pick out a new car without him--probably a smart move--so I was stuck with our 17 year-old tin-can of a truck until he could find a new car himself). And I swore this was the wake-up call I wasn't going to ignore.
So, to add to my previously-stated New Year's resolutions, I will also be continuing my efforts to be less of a people-pleaser, at least in situations where the risk outweighs the consequences. I no longer go into Booming Metropolis just because I feel guilty for not visiting my friends enough, and I never, ever even consider driving faster to keep someone else from being annoyed with me. When I have a decision to make, the first question I ask myself is "Am I doing this for me, or am I doing it to please someone else?" If it's the latter, I don't do it. No exceptions. No apologies.
There have been a lot of little resolutions popping up in my mind over the last couple of days, and while I'd like to see some success with the little ones as well, big ones like this will get the majority of my attention.
The photo today is of the car the Captain picked out for us, using only the internet and his exceptional research skills. It's a 2004 Chevy Malibu Maxx. It looks a lot like our old Elantra, and it runs a lot like it too.
I will endeavor not to crash it this year...