I was looking through some old photos the other day and came across this picture of our car accident 6 years ago. I wrote about it in this fear of driving post a few years ago. It’s a really weird feeling when something happens right after you think about it or say it out loud. Almost like you just willed it to happen. That’s how it went down 6 years ago and it happened again Friday night.
It went something like this (times are approximate):
6:00pm: Mark turns the car on as the kids pile in. We are headed to my mom’s for the weekend. I say, “It sounds loud. Is that noise getting worse?” Marks shrugs with an “I don’t know. Maybe it sounds louder today, yeah.” Hmmmmm.
6:20pm: Rush hour, BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway for you non-local folks. I love how there is a Yelp review page for the BQE. Haha, what?). We both hear a soft, padded deflating kind of noise as we are driving down the multi-lane highway. “Did you hear that noise?”.
6:22pm: “Something’s happening”, says Mark. “The car’s losing power”. I see that we are slowing down, but miraculously I stay calm.
6:25pm: “I’m trying to make it to the exit”. Mark tries to floor the gas to get as far to the exit lane of the highway as he can . He’s hoping that we can coast down the exit and get off the highway.
6:30pm: The car is slowing, slowing, the lights are dimming….aaaaaaand the car stops. In the middle of the BQE. During rush hour. It’s dark. Oh.
“What do we do? What do we now? What are we supposed to do now??”, I ask. I’m no longer calm. “I don’t know!”, yells Mark. “We have to get the car towed!”. He gets his phone out and searches for towing companies. Meanwhile, I turn around to see what the kids are doing. They don’t really know what’s going on, except that we are no longer moving on the highway, and they continue to chat with each other.
But then I see what is happening in the rearview window and completely freak out. “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!”. I see headlights speeding up to us and only slowing down at the last minute when the driver realizes that there is a car basically parked on the BQE with hazard lights on. “AHHHHHHHHHHHHH SHITTT AHHHHHH!!!!”. The girls now turn around to see what I’m freaking out about and start nervously chatting in louder voices. Mia looks back and tries to do hand signals in wildly exaggerated movements to let cars know that they should move around us. “Mia! Calm down! I need quiet so that I can talk on the phone”. Then Mark turns to me and says, “you can’t freak out like this. Not now. Just don’t look back!”. He starts dialing some numbers and after a few tries, ends the call and says, “They told me they could get here in half an hour!”. HALF AN HOUR.
So you know how you really shouldn’t be looking at something, but you just can’t help but look? I can’t stop looking out the back window. I see cars and huge semi trucks speeding towards us. Some barely make the stop and swerve around us at the very last minute. Cars nearly hit us multiple times. “We can’t sit here for half an hour!”, I cry. “Maybe we should call 911. This is dangerous.” Mark says ok and mutters something about never having called 911 before except for the time a parked U-Haul was on fire directly in front of our apartment. In the meantime, I try not to look back, but instead am transfixed with the view from the side mirror. I see 2 police vehicles with sirens pass by, but neither of them stops for us. My heart sinks.
6:50pm: “My toes are cold”, says Mark.
6:55pm: “Should we go outside so that we’re more visible? So that people can see us?”, I ask. Mark shakes his head. I wonder if the girls should come up to the front in case we do get hit, but then decide that’s a stupid idea.
7:05pm: I see a truck coming up behind us and it’s slowing down. “Maybe this is the guy!!”. He stops behind us, gets out and asks us what happened. After a few exchanges, the plan is to push us down the highway to the exit and down the street. He has another car on top of his raised tow truck and can’t tow another, but he can push us in neutral. The man gets back in his truck and starts pushing us. We are moving. “Weeeeeeeee!!!”, yells the girls. I am relieved to be getting off the highway, but wonder out loud, “what do we do when we reach the end of the exit?”. The truck continues to push us all the way off the ramp and through a green light. We miss a turn that we’re supposed to make but just keep going. Suddenly Mark sees an empty spot on the street and turns into it. “Hey, it’s a parking spot!”, he says, straining to see the street sign, “And street cleaning isn’t till Wednesday! Score!”.
7:15pm: We figure out that we are somewhere in Greenpoint and call a car service. While we wait for the car, we start emptying out compartments, unhooking car seats and grabbing whatever is in the car and stuffing them into bags. Mark and I both know that we probably won’t be driving this car again. This was the last straw, especially after the car stalled in Times Square in the middle of Mark’s delivery runs during the stressful month of December and wouldn’t start up. Never mind that we just put in new tires that cost us $500. I didn’t want to put in any more money on a 14 year old car whose speedometer didn’t even work, and I already had a financial plan in place to prepare ourselves for this moment that even I had to admit was rather genius. I just didn’t think we would be doing it so soon.
And that is how we ended up with a new car.