My best friend and I were in a car accident last week. A car of teenagers flew through a red light and t-boned my friend's van. The driver of the other car broke her wrist, but still found the energy to leap out of her crappy turquoise car and start screaming at my friend, "You ran the red light!"
As if. I guess that means that all of the other driver sitting patiently at the traffic light going the same direction as the teenage missile were mistaken? Or coincidentally all from a country where it's considered a courtesy to stop at green lights?
We were lucky not to have any injuries, although my friend's van had to be towed to a repair shop. Because none of the third-party witnesses bothered to call the police or stop to check if we were OK, my friend will likely have to pay her full deductible. The police cannot declare either party at fault unless they (the cop) actually witnessed the accident.
My friend and I have totally opposite reactions in times of stress. In the minutes following the crash, she sobbed and was unable to say anything but, "Oh, my God! Oh, my God!" I felt completely calm and tried to talk soothingly to her, especially when she began to shake all over, as if she were in shock. I called 911 and gathered her insurance and registration from the glove compartment for the police. By the time her husband arrived, about half an hour later, she was still shaky and upset. I felt eerily calm and rational.
By mid-afternoon, she was back to normal, phoning insurance agents, arranging a rental car, and starting to get royally pissed over the whole situation. I found myself imagining a succession of "what ifs" and became suddenly paralyzed with fear. Thank God the kids weren't with us...thank God she wasn't going faster...thank God we weren't hit into oncoming traffic...
Even now, a week later, I am unnaturally wary about driving. I find myself panicky when a driver out in front of me, even when there's plenty of room. A flash of color in my peripheral vision makes me break out in a cold sweat. I create excuses not to drive across town, when normally I would welcome the chance to get out of the house.
This, too, shall pass, right?