This story is by Cecelia Landress and was part of our 2016 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the Winter Writing Contest stories here.
What a fabulous day with the sun shining through the clouds. After all day meetings on health insurance, I am so glad to get out and drive in this gorgeous weather. Amazing how the cost of insurance today is going up and the benefits are going down with the deductibles doubling. Executives must be out of touch with people. They think having sales staff distributing goodie bags enthusiastically as everyone enters the room will make clients prefer buying insurance from their company. Cost and care are the two most important factors when you go to buy health insurance, not all these bags of goodies. After a fun evening with friends sharing Mex and Margaritas, I’m sure even the bags will look better.
I Crank up the music. “Nothing Good Happens After Midnight” by Zach Seabaugh will change my mood from work to social. My dad use to always say that to me to remind me to be safe and watch out for others. A news alert interrupts the music to warn people of terrorist threats on the U.S.A. I am happy for the people in France for heading off the attacks the other day after the tragedy last year. Now the threats are here in the U.S.A. With the Thanksgiving parade, New York is now on high alert. I guess cities in the USA should be on alert. But not tonight. Mex, Zach, and friends will keep my mind on the great things in life.
Heading down the interstate, the sky behind me suddenly turns black. BOOM! Something dropped out of the sky and landed on the back of my car. My car explodes catapulting it forward. The windows shatter. Was it a bomb? Were we being attacked? As my car sailed forward, I realized my seat was broken and I could no longer reach the brakes. I was going to crash into the cars ahead of me or the cement wall. I desperately struggled to find the brakes. As glass and metal flew about the car, I found the brakes and began to pump them with little results. As I struggle and pray, the car begins to slow. By the grace of God the car stops moments before hitting the car in front. As my car sits in the construction lane, I am in a state of shock. I am dazed and hyperventilating as I try to see what has happened.
Upon impact, my car automatically sends out an SOS call to 911. The lady came over the speakers and asked me if I was ok. Dazed, and a bit hysterically, I cried out, “I think a bomb hit my car. The back of my car exploded.”
The emergency person said, “Are you ok?
Hysterically between breaths, I managed to say “I think so. My car is crushed. Please send someone to help me”
“Your car shows you are on I-575. What happened?”
“The sky turned black and then something hit my car, surging it forward. I think it was a bomb”
She said “you need to calm down, breathe. Just take a deep breath. I am sending emergency help now. Can you tell me what you see?
Looking in my rearview mirror, between breaths I told her, “I see several cars that are hit all over the expressway and miles of cars are not moving. It is a mess. I need to call my friend and tell her I am not going to make dinner”. As I started smelling gas, I knew I had to get out. I search for my phone and purse.
“Ma’am you need to stay with me till the emergency team gets there”.
Then a knock on the window jolted me back to consciousness. “Are you okay?” A voice at the window asked. The kind man at my window, calmly tells me, “The Paramedics are back there. They will be here next. It smells like gas out here, I’m going to try an open your door so you can get out.”
I looked in his eyes, and asked him “What happened?” As he opened the door, he explained, “You were hit by a speeding black truck. She had to be driving between 80 and 90 MPH while texting. She had no clue till she hit your car. Then her truck slammed into several other cars even knocking one into the cement wall.”
Relieved, I chuckled, “I guess that is better than a bomb. At least the world is not going to end.” He looked at me and started to laugh.
As he helped me out, I grabbed my purse and phone. Then my hero turned to go help others, reminding me “the paramedics will be here soon.”
Surrounded by confusion and chaos, I managed to dial my friend’s number. Between sobs, I told her “I am not going to make it to dinner. A truck just crushed my car. I am literally sitting on I-575. I think I am ok. I’m not bleeding.”
Lynn replied, “I am on my way.”
Hysterically, I blubbered, “I don’t think you will get through. I see wrecked cars and all the lanes look like a parking lot”
“I will. Don’t worry,” She calmly responded.
At that moment, the tears flowed. Not because of the pains in my body or the loss of my car or even not knowing what was next, but because people cared.
As the ambulances started to take people away, the paramedics made their way up to me. One reached my side and said, “That was a vicious hit, are you ok? Do you need an ambulance?”
“Well I am standing, not bleeding, I talked with 911 and called my friend, so I guess I am alive.” At that moment, I felt peace and a wave of calm overtook me. Immediately a feeling of exhilaration came over me. I Am Alive!
As they left to check on others, a well-built Georgia State Patrol Officer approached. He had been checking out the cars. I had calmed down some by this point. We talked and I realized I did not know what was going to happen to me. I was 2 hours from home and no car. All my work in the trunk was destroyed. The officer tried to explain how all the cars were hit. His demeanor was kind and caring and kept assuring me I was going to be okay. In my heart, I believed him.
Ambulances carried people away. Wreckers started removing cars. As I was pondering how I was getting home, I looked up and saw my friend coming to the rescue. She was driving past all the cars in the emergency lane. I could not help but smile. I guess the officer was correct, everything was going to be fine. My friend, Lynn, and I managed to empty the items not destroyed inside my car into the bags the insurance companies had given me at the meeting. The bags were looking better by the moment.
As they started to load my car on the wrecker, I climbed into Lynn’s car and began to cry. “What am I going to do?”
She said, “let’s get you to the hospital.”
“No, where can I can get a rental car?”
Luckily, I have smart friends. Lynn looked at me, laughingly she said, “You are going to drive? Not hardly. You are in no condition to drive. You may think you are, but believe me you do not need to drive for several days. I wish you would let me take you to the hospital.”
“I just need to get a rental car. If I go to the hospital, I would rather go near my home. My daughter will be home from school tomorrow. I need to be home.”
“Here is what we are doing. If you want a rental car, you must go to the hospital first. Or we will meet Joe for dinner then drive you home. Your daughter will be home tomorrow from school so she can take you to get a car if you are up to driving”
I started crying again… I guess God does have angels on earth.
We met Joe for a delicious Mex dinner. Joe was the DD (designated driver) so Lynn and I had Margaritas. A lot of husbands would have been irritated with their wives promising them to drive someone across town, but not Joe. He agreed with Lynn that I should not drive home. He had no hesitation about driving me across town either. How often do you have friends who will put everything aside to help you? My car was destroyed; but I felt warm all over. Good people can turn feelings of dark desperation into feelings of exhilaration. That night, I was blown away by the love of strangers and friends.
On the way home, I knew my dad had been with me when I heard him singing to me, “Nothing good happens after midnight!”