Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I am human after all

This morning started out pretty much like any other morning. I got up, got ready, and headed to work (I even had time to get coffee with my gift card of course and still be early). About a mile from work, I was driving in the middle lane, when BAM, the truck next to me, swerved into my lane and hit me. At the time of impact, I was probably going 40-ish mph and the dude was going probably 25-30 mph. Two cars in front of him were slowing down to turn, and he decided not to wait.

It happened so fast (everyone says it because it's true) that I'm not sure how much my car moved after impact. I remember flying forward in my seat, luckily I was wearing my seat belt, so I didn't fly through the windshield. The dude pulled into a nearby parking lot, and I followed him. As my hands were shaking, I managed to unbuckle my seat belt, turn off the car, and open my door. He seemed rather distraught, asked me if I was ok. I replied (with tears starting to form in my eyes), "No, not really." After looking at the damage to my car and muttering an expletive, he proceeded to inform me this was his first accident and that he wasn't sure what we should do. I told him he should call the police, and that while he did that I was going to call my principal. He walked toward his truck, appearing to be on his phone, got in his truck, and proceeded to drive away. Yes, a hit and run! I was on the phone with my principal when he drove away, and I was absolutely shocked! I didn't think fast enough to get his license plate, but I did think about running down the street after him! Yes, only me!

Suddenly, I was dealing with this all alone. Sure, my husband was on his way, as were the police, but there was not another person who had experienced this with me. No one else felt the force of 40 mph, flying forward in the seat, panic of realizing an accident had just occurred. Nope, I was all alone on that one. What a strange feeling for someone to check if you are ok, but then to just drive off as if nothing had happened. This accident is interrupting my life, not just my day, my life. While waiting for the police (yes only 10 minutes after the accident), I could already feel the soreness setting in. And with that came a feeling of dread at the long road to recovery ahead. I know healing takes time, and I don't necessarily want to be patient. I wanted to run in Pat's Run this year (after the accident preventing it last year). I wanted to be able to do push-ups and crunches at the end of the day. I wanted to be able to clean the kitchen, go to the grocery store, stand in the kitchen and cook dinner. Yet in spite of all the things it hurts to do, I am so incredibly grateful that I was able to walk away from the accident. I'm grateful I was wearing my seatbelt. I'm grateful for everyone around me who is incredibly supportive and encouraging.

So - what has gone through my mind after being involved in a hit and run? Anger, sympathy, anger, wondering, anger. I know that hit and runs happen, but I've always believed in a sort of decency in most people to stop and do the right thing after an accident. Even if it's inconvenient or scary, there is a certain expectation that as a driver, you will be responsible in dealing with accidents (big or small). As a result, I've been angry at this dude for abandoning that responsibility. Who is he to masquerade around as a driver yet feel he is above the law? Who is he to run away from hitting me and the inconvenience he is causing me? I've moved through feeling sorry for him. Maybe he didn't have insurance, maybe he really was freaking out, maybe he knew he couldn't be late for work under any circumstances. Yes, there is a side of me that is sympathizing with how he felt. And yet, he still had a responsibility to do the right thing. So I'm back to anger at his choice to run away. I'm angry that he wasn't practicing good citizenship or integrity. Will he ever get caught? Will he feel guilty for running from the scene of an accident? Did anyone else happen to get his license plate number? Are there cameras anywhere that can get his license plate number? There are so many questions to be contemplated. The valley is a big area - driving 10 minutes gets you into a new city to get lost in a new crowd. Chances are, I'll never see or hear from this dude again. And, that makes me angry. That someone can do such a horrible thing and probably will get away with it. That's really frustrating. And it's frustrating that I could've reacted quicker to get his license plate number. I know that I can't put myself through that, but it is still a thought that has crossed my mind.

This is the car I've had the longest (almost 6 years), and it's been a great car. This is how it looks now.