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Thursday, June 2, 2011

car crashes

The other day I saw the aftermath of a car crash. Thankfully there was no loss of life. The crash happened between a range rover and a salon car. The truth is some cars are more equal than others. The range rover seemed to have come up from behind and rammed the smaller car. By the time I was there the police were too, the owners of the cars engaged in an earnest conversation about liability and the timing of payment, I decided to take a closer look at the crash because I thought it might be interesting and it was.

I looked at the salon car first and the back of this car was completely obliterated. The crash had compacted the boot so that nothing would ever fit in there again, the metal was wrinkled like a cheap suit, bunched up against the edges like a mob trying to run away from a fire. The back wind shield was cracked. It was a major repair job waiting to happen. Then I looked to the right to check out the range rover, it had a dent in the bumper, a dent in the bumper. Not a huge one, the metal wasn't twisted too far and not e'en all of it. A quarter of the bumper of this car had crashed the boot and back window of the other one. I was slack-jawed I couldn't believe what was before me and as a result I got the evil eye from the owner of the salon car, he was more angry with me than the guy who had totalled the car so I went on in a hurry. I had no desire to add to his grief with my pity.

But the image stayed with me and I thought this happens a lot doesn't it? Not the accident with cars but an accident with human beings. A lot of relationships are collisions, huge accidents. We are driving along on the road of life when we get distracted by something, another car and it's something beautiful so we hoot and hope the car slows down so we can drive along beside it. Sometimes we have to speed up to catch up with it, or break a few rules, pass a few red lights that we have been warned about with no regard to the pain that nearly everyone knows we are preparing ourselves for. And a lot of times when we catch up with the car, it's not driving at our pace and we have to adjust ourselves way past the comfort zone. We have to push our little Toyota to match the engine power of a Mercedes but we know it can't and so for as long as you drive along together you have a feeling that at the next stop another Mercedes will come along and they'll race off together leaving behind dust and the effects of an over-exerted engine.

Sometimes a vitz will think she can change the hunting prowling ways of the jaguar, tie him down to a life of not racing past finish lines and not breaking every rule in the rule book. And the vitz will try it’s mightiest to hold back the horsepower, it will slip the reins over the chariot and try to change it, saying whoa, at every instance but those reins break and break free and chafe the hands of whoever is holding them.

Sometimes a real crash happens. A crash that noone expects, and the occupants of the cars leave it dazed and confused. Feeling lucky to be alive but unable to drive seriously for a while. The engines of their cars have melted turning into nought, the kind of car crash where the insurance company writes off the car you are driving and gives you a new one. The kind of car crash that turns a safe Volvo into a roaring jaguar. The kind that turns a shy beetle into a foxy porsche. And for days as they wait for the insurance claim to be satisfied they have no way to drive, they hitch rides with friends and turn things into something they should not be. They rebound into cars but for such short times because they are afraid of crashing again, they call their friends and get too drunk to drive and that's when they drive.

Some after a crash like this will be able to get the car they had back and ride in the new model beetle. Some people do not lose faith in themselves after the crash, they rightfully think that accidents happen and it's not the fault of the car being driven but maybe how it was driven. So with the same faith in vehicularity that they had before they drive on but they watch the road now. They know it's not as safe as they thought it was. They know crashes kill people and that there is no reason to run from one to the next when a stop for a few at a light will save you.

Every once in a while there is a crash like the one I saw, and that may be the worst of all. The rangerover will drive off unscathed and never pay mind to the salon they wrecked, for them there was no impact. But for you in your salon, it felt like your whole life changed. You felt the jolt move through your car like electricity, the nerve endings in your back screamed and you were thrown forward and thought you would die. In the midst of the accident you almost couldn't see how you could survive this but you did and at the end of the carnage you say a silent prayer to god or scream your gratitude. Then you leave your car and see a dent on a quarter of the bumper of the other car. This event meant so much to you but to this other car, it was nothing.

They drive on before the tow truck can even come for your car and before their tail-lights disappear from view you can already see it driving off with yet another car. You need months to get back to where you were. You need to go to the insurance companies and deal with mechanics and even then the marks of that wild drive aren't washed away, never really. And when you see that range rover that drove off as if you were a speck you feel the wounds in your car again.