Often while driving, I imagine what could happen and I mentally try to prepare myself for the worst. I imagine what may happen if someone else hits into me, if my car rolls, if my bonnet flips up, if a person runs across the highway in front of me, if I’m hijacked, or if I have a blow-out, and sometimes something as simple as if I were to run out of fuel on the road. This is not because of the country I live in, but because road accidents are common around the world and it could happen to any of us.
I try to imagine what it would feel like to be in that situation, and what I might do to save the situation. How I would act, what my first actions would be, when I would allow myself to freak out, how I would react if a person was injured, etc. And I have to say, I am thankful that I do that, because it saved my life.
So, after knowing how to drive on the farm since I was 12, and being licensed to drive for close on 10 years, I got into my first accident last week. But, one can’t really call it an accident. It was more of a very expensive oopsy.
Some background on it, well I had planned on going to a town called Mthatha (about 500km south of us) to help in a disaster relief effort that was happening, I was to leave in the morning of Monday 20 Feb 2017. In preparation for the journey, my parents asked that I have my car serviced, which was a fair enough request. So on the Saturday morning I went to the mechanic and got my car serviced. It was just like any other routine thing. I came home on the Saturday and did chores for the rest of the day. I was at peak adulting level (more on that in another post).
Sunday was a windy and rainy day. I woke up, did some work with the horses, and got ready to go to my meeting. I was so happy that my congregation was finally back to using their own Kingdom Hall after almost 3 months of serious renovations. I jumped into my car, noticed that the petrol would get me to the hall, and only just get me back to the nearest fuel station. I got out of the gate, cranked up my Disney soundtracks CD and hit the road. Its only 18km to my hall. The road was wonderfully quiet, of course, being a Sunday morning. The rain had stopped. I turned onto the freeway and sped up, I moved into the fast lane, and as I hit 120km/h overtaking another vehicle, while the song “Someday out of the blue” from the Road to El Dorado was playing, I heard a thud.
It took me a moment to realize my bonnet (called a hood in the USA) had not been latched correctly at the mechanic the day before (as has been done by the said mechanic a few times previously, but normally I notice it sooner) and had worked itself loose, flipping up and smashing into the windscreen. So there I am, doing 120km/h in the fast lane on the highway with no vision in front of me! I immediately put on my hazards, and tried to slow down safely. Keeping the car steadily straight, thankfully I was not on a bend when this happened. Checking in my rear view mirror , I realized the impact of the bonnet had bashed the roof and popped my rear view mirror off and onto my lap, so using the side mirrors I slowed to a stop as other cars sped past me. Shaking with fright, I waited until there was a big enough gap in the traffic to pull across the slow lane and into the emergency shoulder of the highway. And there I sat shaking, screaming and crying for a minute. Once catching my breath and notifying my family, I stepped outside the car to assess the damage. I had to force the bonnet down, probably damaging the hinges even more, to be able to see out the pretty smashed up windscreen. Standing on the side of the freeway on a windy day in my wraparound skirt (which was flapping around everywhere) with a pretty messed up car, I felt like typical damsel in distress – a feeling I hate with all my soul.
Just then a kind couple pulled over to see I was ok. To Moses and Regina, I am very thankful. Moses’ kind words that my car was not too serious and that I can tie down the bonnet with some wire to get home calmed me a bit more. They left and I sat in the car again to figure out what next. Remembering I had a set of work clothes in the boot (trunk), I grabbed that and put on the cargo pants instead of the flimsy wraparound. I felt like I was starting to have some control again. Scratching more around my car, I realised with a dropping heart that although I normally have wire and string in my car, I had used it on one of my last “expeditions” and thus had none. Knowing I really needed to get off the highway, even the shoulder, I looked around my car in need of “MyGyver-ing” something to work for me. Realising my work boots had laces, I took the lace off of one and used that as best I could to tie the bonnet down. After what felt like an eternity, finally I felt like I could move again. I climbed back into the car, answering a call from my father as to where I was. And then I slowly drove to the nearest exit. Thankfully my knight in shining armour, also known as dad, met me as I came off the highway. Having an actual emergency kit, he used a towing rope to secure my bonnet down properly (not even the whole force of a hurricane or a tornado could have lifted that after dad had tied it down), and he drove ahead of me all the way home.
And hey, my sound system still worked, so I could even listen to music on the way home (smirk).
I know that wasn’t a “real” accident, though for my first major mishap it was pretty darn scary. But I also realise how incredibly fortunate I am, and I am really proud of myself for keeping my head in the situation. I mean it could have been so so much worse. There could have been other cars involved. I could have gotten injured. My beloved car could have been a write off. Someone else could have gotten injured. It could have happened on a bend. The road could have been busier. It could have been raining. Thankfully none of that happened. Thankfully I had mentally prepared myself and basically did everything I always imagined I would do, even though it was way more scary than I ever imagined. I thank Jehovah for keeping me safe in that situation.
I came home and had a breakdown on Sunday. But on Monday I got to work getting my car fixed. I can’t say I’m too stoked about the fact that I am going to be broke for ages after this. The starting quotes I got were ranging from R17,000 to R5,500. Eventually I found a reputable place that offered it to me at R3500. Which is way better. Still an expensive school fee so to speak, but better that R17,000! I sent it in last Wednesday and I should be getting it back any day now, hopefully. (p.s. I’m not begging, but donations will not be rejected if you’re offering, wink wink)
The rest of the week I was really down and out, I’m not sure if that was my CFS, but I think in a large part I was still in shock from my accident. About the Wednesday night I woke up with nightmares, every time I closed my eyes I heard that thud and saw the windscreen lifting up.
But truth be told, this too shall pass.