Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Car Gets Hit

December 2002

I was driving my son Dave to karate class one dark, rainy night when a tree hit us. I'd been taught to be alert to what is happening ahead and behind my car. No one ever mentioned the need to look to the sides in case a tree might be falling onto the car. Later, safely home reviewing the sequence of events, Dave claims I panicked, which is nonsense. I remember very clearly hitting the brakes and then screaming, "I hit a tree! I hit a tree with the car! I hit a tree!" This was not panic because whenever I hit or fall into things with the car, I explain the situation loudly like that in case the passengers, if any, have missed what has happened. It's a public service.

Dave says that he told me to blow the horn to warn an approaching car that the road was blocked, and that I just sat there so he reached over and blew it himself. Since I don't remember that part I cannot confirm or deny it. But I do remember his saying, "Put on your emergency lights to warn the car behind us. Put on your emergency lights. Mom. Put on your emergency lights." So I blinked and fumbled around, trying to remember what and where the emergency lights are, and when I located them, I was startled to see that they were already on. I turned to Dave to comment on the strangeness of this, but he'd vanished from the car, yet another surreal event. So I looked ahead to where the tree had just been sprawled out over the hood of my car, but the tree was missing too. Then I spotted it in the arms of Dave and some man, who were pulling it onto the shoulder of the road.

Dave got back into the car, and I said, in a non-panicked, perfectly reasonable, conversational tone, "I hit a tree with the car."

"That's it," he said. "Trade places. I'm driving."

I'm a seasoned driver, and he just has his learner's permit, but okay, I don't like to argue about things that don't matter. I got out, walked around to the passenger side, and let him drive, but it was just to humor him.

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