I know you've had a rough life. It was only a month after I bought you when we had our first accident.
Since then, you've been smashed by a Mercedes-driving bimbo at Target and then backed into by our irresponsible neighbor. I scratched the hell out of you trying to park you in my too-small garage, as well as a few times on the curbs of fast food drive-throughs (I'm so ashamed) and on the bushes near our parking space. Someone dented your rear passenger door, probably while I was out shopping at Target again.
But nothing as bad as last night's accident has ever happened to us before.
It was horrifying to see the initial accident happening in your rearview mirror: a motorcycle swerving into the carpool lane, smashing into a small black VW. As quickly as I could gasp in shock, the motorcycle slammed into the back of us, shattering your rear window into a million pieces that flew forward and showered over me. I watched the motorcyclist soar through the air and land hard on the pavement two lanes away from us.
I hit the brakes, turned on your emergency lights, grabbed my cell phone and ran to him. I called 911 as I knelt beside him. "Are you okay, are you okay," I kept asking. "Please, say something, anything." He laid very still and his eyes were closed. He didn't seem to be breathing. I thought he was dead and my heart felt like a lump of ice in my chest.
Someone ran towards me, saying not to touch him. "I work at a hospital," the voice shouted. I don't know if it was a man or a woman; I was in shock already. I stood up and walked back to you in a daze.
I pulled off the freeway onto the shoulder and kept trying to call 911, like everyone else around me. There were so many of us and we kept asking if anyone had gotten through, but no one was successful and time was passing. I started to shake uncontrollably.
I called the Ex and got his voicemail, leaving an incoherent message. He told me later that I said I'd been hit on the freeway and that I thought a man was dead. I called my paramedic friend Masa, hoping he could help me reach 911. I got his voicemail too. I hung up. I tried 911 again, pleading aloud for someone to please pick up the phone. I finally remembered I had the number for the Pasadena Police Department in my cell.
I called the number and when a woman answered, I must have sounded hysterical. "I know this isn't the number for an emergency, but I've been in an accident on the freeway and I can't get through to 911. Please, please, can you patch me through," I begged. She was so kind; she even waited on the line with me for five long minutes while 911 rang and rang. Finally, a dispatcher answered and told us help was already on the way.
By this time, half a dozen people surrounded the man on the pavement: off-duty nurses, doctors, and paramedics who had stopped to help. Two men stood guard at either end of the accident, directing traffic to ensure everyone's safety. People of every race and age stopped to see if they could assist us. At one point before an ambulance arrived, the group asked for a blanket and I grabbed the picnic blanket I keep in your trunk and gave it to them to cover the man.
It felt like an eternity before CHP and LAFD came, but they finally arrived and took control of the situation. The people who had given their time and their skills to aid us slipped away, anonymous but for the few who had witnessed the actual accident and had to give statements. The paramedics checked my blood pressure and heart rate - both elevated from my fear and panic. I started to cry and one of the paramedics said, "Come on now, take a deep breath, you'll be okay." The other touched my arm gently and said, "Ignore him. If you need to cry, you just cry." And so I did.
The couple in the car that had been sideswiped first – they were on their way to Disneyland when the accident happened – stayed with me until a tow truck showed up to take you and me back to Pasadena. The tow truck driver was warm and kind, making small talk with me as he drove us home. And when we arrived in front of the house, the Ex was already waiting. He hugged me tight and then parked you in the driveway for me. We set to removing all of my belongings from your interior and taping plastic over your broken back window. You looked so forlorn.
You're sitting out in my driveway now, waiting for an insurance adjuster to come tell us the verdict: will they pay to fix you, or will you be totaled and become salvage, just "junk"? To me, you'll never be junk. You'll always be the best car, the one that protected me whenever we had an accident (whether it was my fault or not), the car with a great sound system and comfortable seats and that certain zoom-zoom that made it fun to drive.
I hope they don't take you away from me, but if they do, I just want to say thanks for everything. I love you, Bumpy.
Thursday, April 24, 2008