“Do you think you can climb out the driver’s side door without cutting your palms on glass?” the police officer asked, ”Or do we need to have some fun and call the fire department to come cut you out?”
This was definitely not the kind of fun I was expecting. I was aware of the fact that being in a car is one of the most dangerous places to be. But since car transportation is so normalized, I never really thought about how the actions of someone I didn’t know could directly affect me.
This particular day had called for a lot of time spent in the car. My mom and I were visiting some family that morning about three hours from our house, and we had just come from dropping my sister off at a friend’s house which was an hour from there. We were on our way to meet some friends for dinner in another town about two hours away. The plan was to stop for dinner there and then drive the final hour home.
But we never made it to dinner.
My mom was driving, and I was sitting in the passenger seat when another car came speeding toward us and crashed into the side of our car. I was screaming as the force of his car pushed our car hundreds of feet across the intersection. It was the worst kind of bumper cars I had ever experienced. I was crying and my whole body was shaking. It felt like the car was never going to stop moving.
The passenger side airbag went off. The window completely shattered, causing it to rain glass on me and my mom. The car door crumbled. The windshield cracked. The car began to bend in half. The car was totaled.
But we were alive.
The police officer attempted to find humor in the situation and acted as if it was totally normal for one car to smash into another to the point where both cars were now undriveable. He must see a dozen car wrecks a week and was mostly unfazed. I, however, was very much concerned that my door was struggling to separate me from the other car.
“I know I’m not attractive, but you don’t have to cry,” the police officer said. “My partner is pretty funky looking too but climb over to him.”
My head hurt. My elbow and ribs were bruised. My upper body ached. We rode in the ambulance to the hospital. My grandmother came and kept us company for the seven long hours we were there. Lots of waiting, paperwork, scans, and tests later, we were finally discharged. Since we hadn’t eaten dinner yet, we ate McDonalds in a parking lot at 3:30 am.
It’s been a month since the crash and although I obviously wish it never happened, I’m just so happy that we’re all alive. I’m interpreting it as a sign that I wasn’t living up to my full potential. I wouldn’t have been satisfied with my life ending when there is still so much that I want to accomplish. The crash was easily the scariest moment of my life. If I can survive that, why should I be scared of anything else?