Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How not to Drive to Acting Class

Monday night a friend of mine and I were driving to our acting class in San Francisco. I was behind the wheel of my Subaru Outback wagon. We had decided earlier to take Highway 280 instead of Highway 101. I guess because it' just a nicer drive and we had the time. Besides, it was Columbus Day and the traffic would surely be light. We turned left from El Camino on to Page Mill Road. Suddenly I heard tires screeching in the distance, ahead of us. Like a nightmare unfolding, about three hundred yards directly ahead, I saw a car accelerating toward us at high speed. It had jumped the barrier separating the west and east bound traffic. There were no other cars between ours. Suddenly, my mind became a calculator. Everything slowed down to slow motion speed. I saw the car coming head on directly toward mine. As I moved to the right, it tracked me as if the front end of my car was pulling it toward itself like a magnet. I felt no terror. However, I was keenly aware that both of our lives may soon end if I didn't make precisely the correct decisions. My brain began to estimate the speed of the oncoming vehicle. I estimated the speed needed to miss it while also not jumping the curb to our right, and flipping my vehicle, or causing it to smash side long into the runaway car.

As he was nearly upon us, I was riding the curb to the right, driving in the emergency lane. I had no where else to go. I accelerated slightly, because I could see that if I maintained our current speed he would plow into us head-on. I would say he was traveling at about 70 miles per hour. Just as I accelerated, the car passed us, side swiping my side mirror.

I can still see the whole scene in my minds eye. It couldn't have lasted more than a few seconds but it seemed like much longer. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw the car quickly swerve to the left and smash into a cyclone fence at full speed. The front end of the car literally disintegrated. My friend and I were in shock . I stopped the car. Quickly I realized that the person behind us was either dead or severely injured. I put my car in reverse and backed down the road in the emergency lane. I was too upset to drive straight at this point and started scraping against the curb. So, I stopped, got out of the car and ran toward the heap of metal in front of me. As I arrived, two women who were driving behind us and witnessed the whole thing were already with the driver. I thought he had to be dead. But they told me he had spoken and seemed fine. Within a few moments he quickly recovered, got out of the car and tried to escape the scene. I stopped him physically, which was probably a stupid thing to do. He threw something over the fence that he had in his sweat suit pocket. The man was on some very potent drugs and obviously had some on him as well. The police and fire people showed up, arrested the man and the rest is history. He was driving a Volvo. They say that Volvo's are the safest cars on the road. It's true. I don't think this man would have come out unscathed in most other cars.

What I learned from this in a visceral way is that life can end instantly without warning. If anything had been different, if I had swerved, if I had miscalculated in the slightest, I probably would not be writing this now and if you know me, you might be attending my funeral right now and the funeral of my friend.

Live for today. Love as much as you can. Be kind. Hug your children. Tell everyone you love, that you love them. Listen to people. Give yourself fully to every moment of every day. It will end one day. It will.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, sorry to contact you this way, but could find no other way to do so. Would you like to review Spring Awakening this Wed at 7:30 pm? You can reach me at totallytruckedblog (at) gmail (dot) com.