The phone rang this morning at 4:30 a.m. That’s never a good thing.
My husband’s voice came over the line. “I’m here in Florida. I’ve been in a terrible accident. I’m OK, but I’m standing by the side of the road freezing my a$$ off waiting for the police to get here. And the woman who hit me is really really mad at me.”
It’s OK. I’m wide awake. The first “ting” of the phone sends a shot of adrenalin running through me that never fails to give me instant focus.
“You’re sure you’re OK?” I ask.
“Yeh, I just need to hear your voice. There are all these people waiting for the space shuttle to take off, and I knew they weren’t paying attention to their driving. There are people parked all along the sides of the road, people pulling in, people pulling out and looking for a better place to park . . . .”
“Oh. . .the space shuttle. I forgot about that.”
“Yeh, there’s a huge crowd here. There hasn’t been a night take-off for a long time. So I could see traffic slowing down in front of me, I slowed down, and this woman just plows into my rear end. You should see the rental car! What am I going to do? . . .oh, the police are coming. Will you look up our insurance policy and claims number and I’ll call you back.”
I get the information, put it by the phone and go back to sleep. It’s cold here, too, but I have a very warm cat snoozing away next to me, so I drift off again.
The phone rings again at 6 and I give him the information he needs. He is still a little shaken, but the police have been very good to him, and are going to give him a ride to a hotel where he can spend the night, contact the car rental people and calm down.
“The woman who hit me is really really angry,” he says in a hushed voice, because she is still near. “The police cited her for hitting me, and she says it’s my fault for slowing down!” We both get a good chuckle out of that – in the US, under pretty much any circumstance you can think of, the person who hits another car from behind is always, ALWAYS wrong. You’re supposed to be paying attention.
“Oh – and while the police were taking the information and clearing the accident (both cars had to be towed) the shuttle took off!”
“Have you ever seen that before?” I asked
“No! And I didn’t care to this time, either. But there it was, in the middle of all this accident chaos, and everything stopped. It was pretty spectacular.”
The police told him the nearest hotel was a roach-infested druggie hangout and took him down the highway, with his three pieces of luggage, to a nicer Holiday Inn. At the Holiday Inn, the desk clerk took pity on him and gave him a very nice room and an accident victim discount. The car rental people brought him a brand new great big car with leather seats in the middle of the night and apologized that this had happened to him in Florida. He is still a little shaken – the woman really hit him hard – but all in all, things went pretty well. He is on his way to his cousin’s house this morning, and a good, hopefully uneventful, visit.
And he got to watch the shuttle take-off. We once lived in Florida. People would travel from all over the world to come watch a shuttle take-off, and it was always iffy. Shuttle take-offs get postponed all the time, weather, mechanical malfunctions . . . sometimes the delay is short, sometimes a week or more.
So I just have to laugh at his luck. He doesn’t even care about the shuttle launch, all he wanted to do was to get to his cousin’s house, and the shuttle launches when he is in the perfect position to view it.
Photo courtesy of http://www.astronautscholarship.org