Author Topic: XXVI: In Which the Hero Learns That Death Conveniently Ignores Some Situations  (Read 3084 times)

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Offline chaos_defrost

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So, last Thursday started like most other Thursdays in the last couple months. Get up at stupid'o'clock for work, take an unnecessarily long shower, prepare myself for work, leave the house 5 minutes later than expected, and compensate by taking the literal shortest route to work to get there on time. This route involves traveling for about 4 miles on a multi-lane expressway, 80/94 on the Illinois/Indiana border.

For those unfamiliar with American highways of this sort, 80/94 is a 5 lane highway where the "slow" lane on the far right has people going about 20% over the speed limit, and the left lane runs at about 30-40% faster. I am in the second to right most lane, going about 70 mph/110 kmph passing along the right hand side of a semi-truck which is going slightly slower.

All of the sudden, the semi-truck driver flips his right-turn signal and immediately goes back to fanning starts to change into the lane on his right. If you've been paying attention, you'll note that this lane is not exactly empty (that is to say, there is now a semi-truck that is very content with ramming the left side of my car). As luck would have it, I notice this and have juuuuuuuuuust enough time to merge into the rightmost lane to avoid this truck. I, unfortunately, do not have enough time to actually see if there's any cars in the rightmost lane right next to me which may make a lane change fairly difficult.

It of course goes without saying that there is a car exactly alongside me on the right when I try to make this lane change, and since I do not have a magical transmuting car that passes through solid objects, I hit this car and can't make the lane change. I have just enough time to swear about getting into the third car accident this month and fourth in three months and make the odd observation that the car I hit is speeding away instead of stopping (when the accident is not at all his fault) before I learn that the semi-truck STILL is insistent on getting into my lane at all cost, first slamming the front end of my car merging, spinning the rear driver's side end into the truck bed, and causing my car to immediately begin a very hard right hand turn into a solid concrete wall.

Fortunately, I recognise that things have officially gotten real and very reflexively jerk the wheel hard left while hard braking. The car skids nearly parallel to the lanes for a couple seconds before friction does its thing and forces the car towards the wall uncontrollably. Luckily, I kept the car in this state just long enough for the collision with the wall to be angular instead of direct, causing me to spin 540 degrees back into the highway and come to a full stop in the center of the rightmost lane. Fortunately, that extra half rotation causes the driver's side door to align nicely with the shoulder, and the driver's side door was the one door not damaged in the crash, so I was able to abandon the car quickly and run into the shoulder. My immediate thought at this point is "wow, I can actually still run after that?!"

My next immediate observation is the shards of broken windshield everywhere, and the stuffed fish I had in the back seat being... unsettlingly far away from the crash site, having been thrown out the rear windshield. I immediately call my parents at work to tell them what happened, which was great when the loud noises of passing traffic drowned out everything from the other end and I couldn't hear anything, while my parents got such awesome lines as "I totaled the car" and "you almost f___ing killed me" (directed at the truck driver who had just walked over to the crash site at the time).

Now, imagine you're a truck driver who has just been in an accident, and you see a mangled car leaking all kinds of fluids and a panicked guy on the phone who may or may not have serious injuries standing next to it. What is the first thing you say to this person? If your answer was similar to "There's really no way that could've been avoided," and to walk away back to your truck, then you may have a future career as a truck driver. You may also be lacking a soul, but thems the breaks.

At this point I notice emergency crews closing the right lane, a tow truck approaching, and a car on the shoulder that appears undamaged with someone standing next to him. I approach the man and he immediately asks if I'm hurt, and tells me he saw everything that happened in the accident and stopped to see if everything was ok. After a short talk the first police arrive at the scene. I give them my information, in the meantime the witness explains to the police what happened. Afterwards, I hop into the passenger side of the police car to give my side of what happened and to actually explain this to my parents, since I now can actually hear them and they're in complete hysterics over what they overheard in the first call.

About 50 feet in front of the crash, on the Illinois/Indiana border, there is an electronic sign. It flashed the message "195 traffic deaths in Illinois this year | buckle up and drive safely." In a bizarre coincidence, 196 is now my least favorite number.

I notice that the truck driver doesn't even seem to notice or care that there was a 3rd party witness, but is already telling the police about how my negligence damaged the cab of his truck (hint: I didn't even so much as touch the cab of his truck). I overhear that he's driving on a suspended license. Spiffy. Right before the officer went to drop me off at a local Burger King to meet up with my parents, he tells me he needs to issue a citation to the truck driver first. He does this, heads back in the car, and takes me to Burger King.

I get to Burger King, and it's about at this very point where the gravity of what just happened hits me like, well, an irresponsible semi-truck driver. Sentences start to become very difficult to form, and my mind immediately does its best to run a stochastic analysis of the probability of me being dead right now (I estimate it at about 30%). Either way, I get picked up, and stay home from work that day because I'm pretty much freaking out at this point.

The very next day we get a letter in the mail stating that the driver is suing us for damages to his truck, postmarked THE DATE OF THE ACCIDENT. I mean, wow, really? As for me, my right hand was a bit sore the day of the accident, but it stopped that night and I was able to go to work and do my job which involves a lot of writing with no problems.

Long story short, the truck driver was obviously found at fault, the car was totaled, and I actually got a higher than expected amount from the insurer for it. For reference, here's pictures of the car (attached). Remember: I was not injured in any way whatsoever.

I attribute me surviving this accident to either the amazing reflexes I gained from playing way too many video games, or picking the best time ever to throw a natural 20. Either way, I'm both happily alive, and a gigantic nerd.

So, yea, near-death experiences. Anyone have any?
"こんなげーむにまじになっちゃってどうするの"

~"Beat" Takeshi Kitano

Offline Mr. K

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Jesus, you're lucky.  Unfortunately that truck driver is definitely acting like a typical American-- even if it's their fault, they refuse to admit it so they sue instead in hopes that they can profit off the whole thing. :/  What a dumbass.

In other news, the thing that struck me most about this story is that it happened surprisingly close to where I live!  Hit pretty close to home in that way since I could visualize the whole thing.  Didn't realize you were somewhat in the area.

Offline Proxima

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Very glad that you're okay  :'(

Offline GuyPerfect

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Unfortunately that truck driver is definitely acting like a typical American

If you think that's typical, you should leave the house more often. Meet some people.

Offline Prob Lem

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Whoooooooooah... Goddamn, you were lucky, man.

Seriously glad to hear you're alright. Best to leave deaths to the digital lemmings, right?

Hopefully karma will catch up with the guilty party, some way or other.

Offline mobius

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so is the truck driver's sue not going to go through? I mean, it won't work (since not only does he have no reason to sue, if it does go through at court you should be found innocent right?)

I know a man in his early fifties, the father of my friend. He worked for an oil heating company for almost thirty years. They fired him to hire a younger, less experienced man right after stating that they weren't going to do such things and offering some kind of payment/retirement package or something//long story short he got screwed over royally. So he's suing the company now, since finding a job these days is no ordinary task.

Unfortunately too many people want to sue right away, and put blame on everybody else. In this instance however I totally support him and hope he gets a lot out of the company. (my friend, not the truck driver
)
------
by chance, this truck wasn't a rusty old brown with "Flammable" written on the back and lots of license plates was it?  ;P
everything by me: https://www.lemmingsforums.net/index.php?topic=5982.msg96035#msg96035

"Not knowing how near the truth is, we seek it far away."
-Hakuin Ekaku

"I have seen a heap of trouble in my life, and most of it has never come to pass" - Mark Twain


Offline Mr. K

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Unfortunately that truck driver is definitely acting like a typical American

If you think that's typical, you should leave the house more often. Meet some people.

Oops, my apologies.  I was trying to be sarcastic because that's the generic worldview that people like to apply to us Americans, but I kinda forgot that sarcasm doesn't translate well through text. I don't think my :/ face helped either, made it look too serious!

Not that it makes the driver less of a dumbass or anything.

Offline chaos_defrost

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A cautionary warning: I just re-read this post, and wow it's depressing. I have this ... way with words that comes out when I talk about certain things. It also likes to show up when I drink occasionally. Combine the two, and, yea. You've been warned.

Epilogue: Aside from that one letter, I have since not heard a single peep from the truck driver or anyone associated with him since the police report finding him the responsible party was released. How about that.  ;)

9 days after the crash, I drove to my girlfriend's place. Incidentally, far and away the fastest way to get there uses this exact stretch of highway, so I sucked it up and drove past the accident scene. It was, of course, as if nothing had happened. Mile marker 0.1 on the IN side of IL/IN 80/94 was a somewhat unnerving sign to look at for me despite all the other vehicles passing it without a second thought. It's a bit odd to think that, potentially, any particular place could bring up terrifying emotions for specific people, while for almost everyone else this area is so ordinary, and there's no way to know that a person might be so emotionally shaken up by a simple traffic sign.

The vastly more unsettling sign was at mile 0 -- that electronic sign which served as such a sobering reminder of both my own mortality and relative meaninglessness in the vast scheme of things had been updated. In 9 days, 195 had become 222. Every day since the accident (including that day), there were, on average, 3 people in Illinois who had something extremely similar happen to them with a very substantially more tragic result. 27 separate stories of horrific tragedy condensed into three changed panels on an oft-ignored cautionary road sign. The ride to my girlfriend's, which is significantly longer than the ride to work, went uneventfully, as it had the dozens of times I've made it before. You really don't realise how much of a waste it is when you waste your life until something like that happens. It can happen at any time, and it can happen to anyone. I'll openly admit, I was not in the best of mental states before that accident, and at certain times wasn't even sure if living was worth it.

This accident took those doubts and smashed them into non-existence. If anything else, 223 is a much less aesthetically pleasing number than 222, anyways. I haven't been on that road since then, though. I wonder how many more life stories have been added to the tally board in the last week.
"こんなげーむにまじになっちゃってどうするの"

~"Beat" Takeshi Kitano