Monday, November 30, 2009

FACE DOWN ON THE CENTER LINE

One of my favorite bloggers, Grayquill, recently ran an amusing three part post about his 17 automobile accidents. Yep, 17. Now I can't come close to that but I have possibly out done him in the damage department with one really good (or perhaps I should say, bad) one.

I had not been out of school very long . One of my former classmates was getting married in Georgia and had asked me and a mutual friend to be bridesmaids. Now I had a car but it was a $50.00 car and just got me to work and back under protest. Wilma had no car so we weren't sure we could go. Flying was out of the budget.

I was discussing my problem at coffee break one day when one of my co-workers out of the blue, offered her relatively new, really cute, green VW bug to drive. I was stunned at her generosity and very grateful but a bit nervous. I really didn't know the girl very well. Had situations been reversed, I am pretty sure I would not have done the same thing.


"Do you have insurance," I asked and Liz said ,"Of course."

In my youth, thinking that was all I needed to know, I gratefully traded cars with her. The wedding was on a Sunday so Wilma and I left after I got off work on Friday night. Since I had borrowed the car, I felt obligated to drive and Wilma was the navigator.

I had no idea how long it would take to drive to Atlanta from Sarasota but we were still on the road way after midnight. Yes I was tired and sleepy but I didn't trust Wilma to drive a car I was responsible for since I did not know her driving abilities. Should have re-thought for any driver is better than a sleepy one.

Some where around Valdosta Ga is when my eyes slammed shut for the umpteenth time. I vaguely remember coming up fast on a car, seeing no oncoming car, and pulling around to pass. I had the little bug doing really close to 70. If you know VW bugs, they pretty much get airborne at that speed.

In my groggy state, I slid off the left hand side of the road, over corrected which threw me into the other car. Wilma later said all she saw were wild eyes staring back at us as we barely grazed their left side. With the lack of weight in the front of the car (to me, a design flaw), we rocked crazily back and forth, totally out of control. The other car shot ahead of us and was never seen again. I had the whole road to rock around in.

"Here we go." I said flatly as I eventually knew I had lost the battle for control and we started our first roll to the left. It got really black and I remember nothing of the wreck. Wilma said when she got her senses back, she looked around for me and saw me hugging the center line, face down and unconscious. She saw headlights coming and grabbed the first white thing she could find from our scattered suitcases which happened to be my bra which she waved frantically. Now I have never had show stopping boobs, but that night, my bra stopped a semi truck.

When I did come to, there were about 10 or 15 people milling about. Wilma was remarkably unscathed and I just kept saying, "Boy am I going to be sore tomorrow." This I repeated every time I moved. I remember being excited when the ambulance came and saying, "I always wanted to ride in an ambulance." However I didn't get to enjoy the ride for I lost consciousness again. Rats, missed the whole thing.

I woke up again in the ER on a gurney. I was cold, really really cold and the nurses and residents were laughing as they sang "It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas" which I thought a bit callous. That is not a happy song for me even today. They were referring to the busy ER as another ambulance announced its arrival. I croaked out that I wanted a blanket and they gave me one which did nothing to make me warm. "She is getting shocky." was the last I heard till morning.

In the morning, the Dr told me what all I had done. I had broken something in every quadrant of my body. I had fractured my skull, broken my nose, embedded road grit in my entire right side of my face, cracked two ribs, broke my tail bone, broke my leg, tore the cartilage in my knee and had three broken toes. Lots of skin was missing. Guess I had done a lot of flopping and skidding when I bailed out the VW. With the seat belts of today, I doubt I would have been hurt.

Wilma called her mother. She told her mom we had car trouble (not a complete lie for the car was "troubled") and could she come pick us up? When her Mom asked were we were, Wilma said "Stone Valley Hospital in Valdosta Ga." She then hung up quickly, afraid of what her mom would say. Again this was before cell phones. Her poor mom almost had half a dozen heart attacks on the way to pick us up. Oh yeah, we never made the wedding.

When I found out Wilma was fine, the worse news was that I had rolled my co-worker's BORROWED car several times and it was a total wreck. I was sick that I had so betrayed her trust. This was not just Liz's car, it was her first car, a graduation present and her baby. It turned out Liz did have insurance, but it was liability insurance only. Yikes. I ended up having the VW repaired at almost the cost of a new car. Somehow she wasn't interested in my $50.00 car as a trade off.

Huge lesson was learned. Today, I won't drive anyone else's car if I can help it. Pretty sure Liz, wherever she is today, will not lend her car to ANYONE. Primarily though, I will never drive anywhere if I am the least bit sleepy. A sleepy driver is just as impaired as a drunk driver. It is just that our breath smells better.

Probably should have posted this before Thanksgiving as a friendly reminder but please be safe over these next holidays in December when everyone is distracted. If you are sleepy, get out from behind that wheel and put your head somewhere soft or your sleep may be a LOOONG one.

27 comments :

  1. So glad you are here to tell the tale. What a bummer!

    Love Granny

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  2. "my bra stopped a semi truck"


    Now there's a book title if I ever heard one!

    I'm also glad you are here to tell the tale; and I am well aware of how Volks Bugs get airborne. We had one in our first years of marriage and I have a story about ours too.

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  3. Mercy, I had a school friend whose father gave her a VW for college. My father barely afforded tuition, room and board so my wheels had 10 toes. I hated riding in it.

    To date my accidents have been minor an all backing up. I try never to back up. My husband had a very bad accident somewhere between Harrison and Yellville. A uninsured car pulled out in front of his little Subaru truck.

    So glad you recovered as those injuries were major and accumulatives.

    I do not get sleepy in daytime but once darkess descends I start nodding. I remember dozing off somewhere on an Interstate. I was alone. I woke up fast and immediately pulled into a roach motel--better than the yellow stripe bed for you.

    Another time I pulled into a road side park and slept. I hated to do that as traveling alone was a tad scary. You heard all types of crimes committed to women alone.

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  4. Lord Have Mercy! You were a lucky girl to escape death in that one!

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  5. Your post is going to make me cry again...yesterday, while going through photos to do a post on my granddaughter Amanda's birthday today, I came across photos of her totally demolished car, caused by an accident so similar to yours. Driving home from college on a "long straight road" she fell asleep at the wheel and rolled her car twice. The seatbelt saved her life. I am so thankful she only had a slight concussion. Sorry to hear of all your injuries Patti, but thankful you are here to blog of it!

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  6. Well Patti, This is a post that everyone should read. Things happen--and we cannot be too careful. Sorry about the car and the wreck--but I'm just glad YOU are still hear to tell the story....

    Now--go get a cup of coffee and relax... I need to do the same thing after reading this one... ha

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  7. That was quite a serious accident, patti. You really are lucky to still be here to share the tale. A very good reminder about taking driving seriously-- always.

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  8. A True Cautionary Tale, my dear....What a terrible way to learn these lessons.

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  9. Granny,
    Ah, it was but you will never see me driving while tired again.

    kenju
    You might be right. Think I would buy that one though it had better be more fun than my post.
    Hope you do the VW post. I do love those little creatures even with the obvious flaws.

    nitwit,
    I am so fanatical now that I once pulled over on an interstate only to have a cop tap on my window and ask if I were "dead". Found out it is illegal to park on the interstate. Go figure.
    I've snoozed at rest stops, 7-11's and Walmart. Figure the alternative to not stopping is the greater evil.

    Carol,
    I did get bunged up and it could have been much worse. Should have played the lottery that day. Oh that's right, it hadn't been invented yet.

    Wanda,
    I am so glad that Amanda was not seriously hurt. She can thank her seatbelt for a lot of that. It scares you so much when a loved one has such a close call.

    Betsy,
    I do hope people pay attention this season. We get distracted and in a hurry so that good sense sometimes takes a vacation.
    Hopefully everyone will drive with caution.

    robin,
    If only accidents had do overs. Being awake while driving and asleep while driving is sometimes only one blink away.

    OOLOH
    I never seem to learn a lesson the easy way. Must be my thick head. Hopefully my tale will make just one person pull off the road when they should.

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  10. Woman, you're very lucky. Think what all could have happened. Glad it wasn't any more serious than what it was. I guess your insurance wouldn't cover driving someone else's car? Glad you're still around to tell the story.

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  11. That was some story! You must gone through an ordeal.
    The ship you mentioned in your comment on my post, is a sister ship of the one we saw a few months ago in Rotterdam and I think they are definitely very seaworthy, for they are cruise ships. Thanks for your visit. Patti!

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  12. Woman! That's some tale! You're lucky to be alive. I hope you did a lot of thankful praying after that harrowing incident.

    I have fallen asleep at the wheel one time, and then only for about 50 yards (didn't even leave my lane), but it scared the *(*(& out of me and I learned my lesson well. I will not again drive when sleepy. Even getting a ticket for sleeping on the side of the Interstate would be a smaller price to pay.

    Needless to say, I'm glad you survived to tell the tale.

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  13. You are so very lucky to come out of that one.

    Have you kept that bra as a good luck token :-)?

    p.s.....Jesse was a beauty...loved the posts

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  14. Patty,
    Can't remember but it was possible I only had liability also on my $50.00 car. My first set of car payments were for Liz's car.

    Reader wil,
    Those ships are so incredibily tall that they look top heavy. Know they had design people to guarantee sea worthiness but it sure doesn't look it. Think I would want a ship with a lower profile.

    Pat
    Wow, such language out of such a nice lady :)))
    Seriously though, I know what you mean. It is totally scary how quickly it can happen.

    Amanda,
    You know I should have kept it, put it under glass and made a wall hanging out of it :))
    Glad you liked Jesse's stories and pictures. I still think of him.

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  15. Thanks for linking my blog!
    You know I almost forgot the $50.00 car days – and they would actually run, pretty amazing.
    This is a horrible accident – wow! I am really glad you lived through that! A lot of broken bones! How long were you in the hospital? The things we do as kids it is a wonder any of us make it to old age.

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  16. I know it isn't funny, but you say the funniest things. Glad you lived through it.

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  17. Patti, Patti, Patti.... I can't even imagine!

    Aside from a couple fence posts here and there I have had no real accidents *knocks wood*. Wait, I did have a guy back in to my 1991 Chevy S-10 once, but that hardly counts...

    I am so happy you are here to tell us these stories and I am very glad your bra was able to stop the semi! :)

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  18. Linda,
    I am so glad you caught the humor for most things in life have a humorous bend to them especially after 50 years. I try.

    GQ,
    Yep, those $50.00 cars did run--often not well nor long but we squeezed every drop out of them we could. None today could pass inspection.
    Actually I only spent one day in the hospital. I was in screaching pain for a long time, had physical therapy for weeks and on crutches but was actually back to work with in a week. Ah to have the
    bounce-back of youth again.

    Barry,
    Ah-- never underestimate the power of women's lingerie.
    I knocked on wood for you also here so you are covered. Keep that record clean.

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  19. I'm glad you survived that trip. My guess is your friendship did not survive.

    The runaway wheelchair my husband witnessed yesterday was funny and was meant to be when I wrote about it. :) My husband had a green VW bug for a long time. I never liked it and you know they really didn't get very good mileage either.
    We did that idiocy of not stopping and will never do that again. We thought driving from Tennesee to Fort Worth was doable in one day. It wasn't...at least we made it home in one piece...shaken, but alive. Somewhere around Dallas there was a spill of bales of hay. That could have been not a good scene.

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  20. WOW...you were really lucky! I've been very fortunate (knock on wood) so far. Nothing worse than a ticket. I did bump a parked car once. I'll remember your warning and avoid being a sleepy driver!

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  21. Hey Patti - Sorry you had trouble on my blog with the link. I posted a hyper link which should work.

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  22. That is a VERY scary story. Oh my gosh! Your injuries were horrifying! Full recovery, I hope!

    Went from buying a $50 car to almost a new one...and still having only a $50 car. Good grief.

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  23. Amber Star
    I know, we seem to think that the few hours saved is so important unless we end up hugging the pavement. Glad you all no longer do that.

    oklhdan,
    I sure hope you do. If one person remembers the "sleepy rule" and pulls off the road, then all the bumps and bruises were worth it.

    Barry,
    Thanks, I was afraid it was me.

    merrilymarylee,
    Here after known as MMM if that is all right?
    Yeah, it was sad to make loan payments for that car for two years while driving my $50.00 wonder. That drove home the lesson as much as the broken bones.

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  24. So sorry you had the wreck, but so glad you survived without permanent damage. A good reminder that you need to stay alert and cautious behind the wheel.

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  25. That's some tale to tell !!!

    Murphy's law- when things have to go wrong they sure will :-))) A similar incident happened with my colleague 2-3 weeks back. She had to go out with her teammates & her husband lent their car to a colleague to escort everyone (she didnt drive). All the while she was nervous & as it was fated, the teammate who was driving rammed it into a moving bus. Luckily they didn't get hurt. Car was troubled of course ;-)

    Your injuries sound like they would have surely taken some time to heal!!!

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  26. Wilma's poor mother. Can you imagine all the things that went thru her mind on that drive?

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  27. SVB,
    I guess we can't be reminded enough. Our lives can change on the blink of an eye.

    lostworld,
    I am so glad no one was hurt but you know they were kicking themselves for lending the car. No good deed goes unpunished as they say.

    SMB
    She was almost hysterical for all she got when she called the hospital back was that her daughter was not a patient and she did not know my name.

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