April 29
As a kid, I wanted to be a doctor. "If you can see yourself doing anything else, do that," people told me very helpfully. Having been home schooled for 12 years, it never occurred to me to question authority. So I became a journalist instead, and was given the same career advice (but far, far less money than a doctor might have made. Thanks, guys.). After enduring a spectacularly mediocre five years in journalism, I dropped that -- and my premed courses -- and Became a Mommy. Luckily for my children, there are significant safeguards in place to prevent people from abandoning this particular career, so they're stuck with me. And now that I have an Open Salon blog, so are you. Ha!


Mamakaze's Links
NOVEMBER 18, 2010 6:04PM

Things that go through your mind when you're hit by a semi

Rate: 14 Flag

Sometimes, something will just hit you like a semi truck. And occasionally, that thing is an actual semi truck.  

There you are, driving along, minding your own business, when the cab of a tractor-trailer suddenly veers in front of you.

“Well, there goes my day,” you think.

In the movies, when this happens, people’s lives flash before their eyes. What flashed before my eyes last Tuesday was a giant trailer grinding its way over my side mirror and A-pillar, its gleaming, indestructible flank looming large in my windshield as it grated to a halt. Let’s face it, my entire life is not half as interesting as a (literal) front seat to a truck-car collision. There are entire cable networks devoted to truck-car collisions.

The semi dragged my car sideways, and then – as the trucker threw his engine in reverse as if he were trying to backspace a simple typing error – pulled me back in the opposite direction. Our perilous pas de deux was arranged to a jarring symphony of metal screaming against metal and the horn on which I was leaning out of pure instinct.

There was no moment of reflection, no scenes of childhood or loves lost or other brushes with mortality (since I live not-so-dangerously, those would consist mainly of watching the 2000 election go to Bush and, of course, eating my own cooking). There was simply the awareness that being hit by a semi was going to really suck, and that he had better not drive over the back end of my car because my 2-year-old was with me, and that my husband would be carless and who was going to pick up the kids from school?

And what really hit me – as the semi hit me – was that one should always check the left-hand lane for careless, mirror-eschewing drivers of tractor-trailers, just in case there’s one attempting a wide right turn across two lanes. Because they can turn you into soup.

Thank goodness for car horns and my preternaturally loud voice. (And for this being a parking-lot accident instead of a highway accident.)

As the trucker continued to back up, compounding the damage despite resistant squeals from my car’s frame, his buddy finally realized that I was yelling at him to let me do the backing up. You know, seeing as how I was not the one in a 10-ton vehicle climbing over a small SUV monster-rally style, and all.

My car limped back a few feet, the denuded rims of my wheels yielding nails-on-a-chalkboard shrieks with each shuddering inch. The truck parked a good 30 yards away, at the other end of the parking lot – perhaps because, as he had just illustrated so amply, his vehicle was a beast to maneuver, but perhaps to distance himself from the fact that he had nearly flattened a mom and baby who were driving safely in the appropriate lane of a busy parking lot.

As I climbed out to survey the damage, I wasn’t sure how my car was going to look. I was fine on the outside, but I felt shattered. First, my car had been hit by a semi, and it had all played out in ultra slow-mo. The turning of the cab. Me slamming the brake to the floor and skidding to a halt, avoiding the cab. The corner of the trailer swinging toward me, like a scene from “Final Destination,” but framed in my windshield instead of on a movie screen. And then the crunching and screaming of metal.

As it turned out, my small SUV was neither totaled nor unrecognizable. The trailer had passed over my front end, sparing the hood but leaving a deep gash in a support pillar. My mirror had been sheared off and was lying in the road, its little wires sticking out in forlorn resignation. Other than that, the only damage was to the two front tires, flattened by the weight of the semi as it lurched against my car, ripping them from the rims and shredding the rubber like it was so much mozzarella cheese. They had needed replacing anyway. What mattered was that the little son and I were fine.

It’s a little over a week out from my tangle with the semi. The car is still in the shop. The insurance company is still trying to determine fault. (Yes, I should have noticed that a truck had pulled into the opposite lane to make a wide right into the parking lot, instead of assuming my lane was wide open. No, he clearly did not check his mirrors.)

Whatever the decision, I am already being punished more than  my insurance company can possibly imagine. No, not with guilt. With a repair-shop courtesy car. It is ugly, smells of stale cigarettes and motor oil, and handles about as well as my car did after being hit by a semi.

And now, a week later, it is finally happening. Every time a truck pulls out in an intersection or turns into a side street, each time a tractor-trailer wobbles halfway into my lane on a rain-slicked road, my life flashes before my eyes.

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comedy, trucks, life, death

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I had a mishap not as bad as yours but I got hit on the Queensway.
There is not a time in my life that I do not go by there and remember.
Rated with the biggest hugs I can send
HOLY CRAP! And your baby was with you? When is the truck driver's funeral or haven't you got around to killing him yet???
Really, really frightening. I am glad you are ok. And what a well-told and entertaining tale, in spite of the subject.
ptsd is terrible. emdr can stop it.
Yikes! Until I opened the comment box I didn't realize I was holding my breath. You wrote this so well we are with you. SO glad you're here to tell the tale!
I'm so glad you are safe and sound. It could have been so bad. -R-
what they all said! egads - that sounds scary. So glad you and your little one are ok. take care of yourself - that was a big shock, I'm sure. I'd still be shaking.
A couple of years ago, I was hit by a city bus. Since then, I cower whenever I see one of the beasts. My revenge -- whenever a bus is behind me, I drive extremely slowly, hoping that the driver will gnash his teeth until they turn to dust. Irrational I know, but oddly satisfying.
Great piece.
Thanks, all! I'm glad we came out OK, too. It could have been so much worse. The only marks are inside -- the baby yells "BAD!" at every truck we see now. But it was all very slow speed, and no one was hurt.

Linda -- Thanks for the hugs! Those things do tend to stick in your mind like checkpoints on your mind's GPS.

Amy -- The truck driver's funeral will happen as soon as I get my pilot's license and use a jumbo jet to give him a dose of his own medicine. Look for the headline "Airbus A30 Leaves Runway, Strikes Delivery Truck." That will be me, getting my sweet, crunchy revenge.

Cyril -- I am hoping it's not PTSD, but just a temporary skittishness. I'm gonna give it a few months!
Scary others have happy that you and your girl are okay! wow. rated!
Laughing at your revenge, John. I will probably just avoid trucks like the plague, myself. :)
So glad that you came through ok. Well-written. These things shake you up. And you can make us drive a little more carefully with the story.
I applaud your skills at getting so much humor out of such a frightening event. The exit from my development meets with a main road with a fair amount of truck traffic, and I always wait a few beats when the light turns green, because so many of the trucks decide to speed through the intersection. Glad you and your son are fine.
I saw a similar thing happen years ago. A semi making a left turn ran over the front end of a V.W. sitting in the left turn lane. It was very slow and deliberate. No one was hurt but the V.W. looked very odd afterward.
I have had a couple of near death experiences in my life. My life did not flash before my eyes. What did happen was that, realizing that I had no control over the outcome, everything went into slo mo and I became extremely objective about the whole thing as if I were a by-stander wondering how it would turn out.
Glad you and the baby are O.K.