Tuesday, March 31, 2015

By the Scruff of the Neck (Part 4)

Here's the last installment of a weekly series I've done this month going into how I've applied three simple principles to stressful situations to make them less aggravating/scary/earth-shattering and more empowering/educational/eye-opening.

Here's Parts 1, 2 & 3

And here's the final (and least insane) story from my life:

Event: Minor Car Accident
Age at the time: 35

This one happened at the beginning of this month.  I was driving home with my husband, Rick from a weekend visiting family.  It had been snowing all day and we'd gotten a late start.  The roads were terrible.

Though I'd been taking it slow and driving carefully (following the guidelines I laid out in this post), I came up to a person who was straddling both lanes and driving painfully slow.  After being stuck behind him for a few miles, I got sick of the pace he was setting.  I waited for him to wander slightly farther to the right and then, throwing caution to the wind, sped up to pass him.

Of course I hit the slush, started fishtailing, couldn't pull out of it, started spinning and ended up in a snowbank facing the opposite direction.  The car was thoroughly stuck and tipped at an angle so the gas gauge immediately sunk down to empty. I quickly shut the car off while Rick got on his phone to call AAA for a tow.

1) Don't play the victim
It would have been so satisfying to blame the driver who chose to drive smack in the middle of the road, but no one had forced me to try passing him.  I could have tried going around him a little slower too, but I wasn't sure if he'd drift back to the left - I had just wanted to get away from him.

It didn't matter the reasons, I was the one stuck in the snow bank.  I was the one who needed to deal with that.

2) Keep calm and vigilant
Oddly enough neither Rick nor I freaked out.  We were both safe.  None of the airbags had gone off; and we had somehow managed to not hit another vehicle while careening in circles on the highway. Other than the initial worry there was a puncture in the gas tank, the car appeared relatively unscathed.

3) Do what you can and then let go
A state police cruiser arrived within minutes - Rick was just finishing up with AAA.  After assessing the situation, the officers asked if we wanted to wait in their car.  In hindsight it seems strange that we declined, but we assumed the tow truck would be there in a jiffy.

An hour later, we were pretty chilly and were thrilled when the tow truck finally arrived to pull the car out.  We did wait in the cruiser for that part.

The tow operator was a surgeon with his pulley and had the car out of the snowbank in no time at all.  We all gave the car a quick look-over.  Now that the car was righted, the gas gauge returned to it's normal reading - no signs of a leak.  A headlight had blown from impact, but the casing wasn't even cracked.  A couple undercarriage covers had been knocked loose, but there was nothing to indicate the car wouldn't be able to get us home under its own power.

Just to be sure, the tow truck driver asked us to follow him up to a gas station at the next exit.  This seemed like a good plan, so we thanked the police officers, knocked as much snow out of the wheel wells as we could, and followed the tow truck to that gas station.

There was a wobble in the tires, which I couldn't figure out if it was a balance issue or just lingering snow we hadn't cleared out, but other than that the car handled great.

We gave our report to the tow driver and had an uneventful remainder of the trip home.

I actually had an appointment to get an oil change and the horn fixed on my car that Wednesday, so I simply tacked a few more things onto that visit.
Turned out that wobble was just snow - which melted in the garage.
The mechanic changed out the blow headlight bulb, reattached the undercarriage covers, changed the oil, and fixed the horn.  The car even passed inspection!

Not exactly a "fun" experience, but it could have been a lot worse that's for sure!

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