The world, my world has gotten a little more shaky lately.
I had a car accident. Oh no! Are you okay? Yes, thank you for your concern.
For approximately four seconds on the 61 viaduct in Red Wing, the one right over the Super 8 Motel parking lot, I was a crash test dummy. It was, at the very least, a shaky experience.
The details, as I remember them.
I was on highway 61 in Red Wing, heading north and west, driving in a line of traffic in the left lane. The road appeared to be mostly dry, with a few wet patches, and the cars were moving at just under the speed limit of 30 mph. I was following a white van at a reasonable distance given traffic flow. The van brake lights went on. My reaction was to tap my brake pedal. preparing to slow down if necessary…
The back of car slides toward median, back toward right lane of traffic, then the car spins one full circle counter clock wise. The rear of car hits right lane cement barrier,the car bounces and spins clock wise one half circle before the front end slams into cement barrier. The car stops, perpendicular to the right lane, mashed to the barrier.
So, was it more than four seconds? I can’t say, it was fast, and yet it was slow. I held onto the steering wheel, watched as I faced on coming traffic, which was slowing down and moving away from my car, then watched cars in the left lane trying to avoid my spinning car and get so close to the left lane barrier I thought they would scrape along it, then suddenly I was staring at the Super 8 sign directly in front of me.
The sign was blurry. At impact I lost my glasses. Slam forward and then back and glasses are bound to go flying.
Panic ensues, no glasses, can’t see, radio still going, car in drive but not running, forget to put in park. See traffic all around swerving and changing lanes, still coming too fast, need to get out of the way, can’t see, need glasses, turn off the car, put it in park, put on emergency blinkers, hope the cars coming over the hill are going slow enough, contents of car tossed all over, should I get out, should I stay in, danger, danger. Where the hell are my glasses?
Red pickup truck stops just beyond my now steaming car. Comes to the door. I open the door, swing trembling legs out, I can stand. Maybe walk away.
“Are you hurt?” he asks (thanks for stopping Ron Campbell) .
I am trembling, all over, decided not to stand. “I have to find my glasses, I can’t see, I don’t know where they landed.”
“Are you hurt?” he repeats, coming closer.
“I need my glasses. I have to find my glasses.” I stand up, turn around and start searching the floor of the car, a scattered jumble of purse contents, cell phone, receipts, books…
“Are you hurt? Do you need an ambulance?”
I just want away, I want my glasses and away, away from the wreck, away from the people in cars coming over the bridge and around my car. Away from the danger, away from what comes next. Away, away. Want to run, hide, get away.
“No, I am shaky, very shaky. I guess that is it. I am shaky, not hurt. I have to find my glasses.”
Have you called the police?”
“I will, I will, as soon as I find my glasses.” I sit down in the car. “thank you for stopping. I am fine, just shaky. My glasses, they have to be here somewhere, they have to be here. I have to find my glasses.”
I check again , the car is in park. I turn the ignition key, maybe I can get away, drive out of this, get away, get off this bridge, out of this traffic. Find some place quiet, some place safe. I can’t drive without my glasses, the car starts.
“There is fluid leaking from your car. You might not want to run it.”
The snow is turning a sickly green under the engine compartment of the car. I get out, look at it. Then I turn off the car.
Crashed, stuck, shaky, and the perilous- ness of the situation descends, heavy, heavy thoughts of consequences, I sag holding onto the car door. I turn to get back in the car, tangled in the seatbelt are my glasses, bows folded nicely, sitting on top of the headrest like I took them off and put them there, on the shelf like I do every night when going to bed.
I put on my glasses. I get in the car, I stare out at the Super sign. I take the keys out of the ignition. I find my phone, I punch in 911. My hands are shaking.
The red pickup man tells me “I’ll wait until the police arrive. Just to be sure.”
I nod at him. He goes back to his truck. My hands are shaking. I might be shivering, it is cold. I close my car door.
No one answers 911. The phone screen shows dropped call. I am still shaking, going through the scenario over and over. What had I done wrong? What happened? Why now, why me? What next, what now? I have my glasses on but I can’t see. The phone screen is dark, a mirror of anxiousness, is it on, off, I push the button on the top, I push it again, I can’t see anything on the screen. I keep trying.
Second try, 911 answers. I babble my location, what happened, I apologize, I always apologize. I apologize for being a bother, for disrupting traffic, for making a scene, for everything.
I just want to get away.
She asks me if I am hurt. “Shaky,” I say,” just really shaky.”
“Good,” she says, “I won’t dispatch an ambulance.”
“I have to get off this bridge” I tell her. I am blocking the entire lane. I am scared, cars approaching, what if they hit a patch of ice like I did, what if that semi jack knifes on the black ice on this bridge. What if, oh no, the semi rumbles around me, slowing and still I can feel the bridge tremble.
Something else to worry about that shaking of the bridge every time a semi goes over it. Bridge collapses, it could happen, all those faulty bridges, the infrastructure is crumbling. Cement barriers and semi trucks, lines and lines of cars going by me, I don’t want to look, I don’t want to feel, I don’t want to be here.
“I’m sending a patrol car.” 911 says. “He will be there shortly.”
I nod, I disconnect the phone. I shake. The bridge shakes. It’s a shaky world. It just got shakier.