Sunday, December 11, 2016

Near misses and dodged bullets

'Tis the time of year when stuff happens – and not the kind of stuff anyone looks forward to. Most people have stories of an ailing parent or family member. Car accidents seem less accidental and more destined, especially with mobile-device-using drivers on the road. And there's always the unknowable and unexpected. If you’re lucky, the outcome is nothing terminal, chronic, or expensive to fix.

For me, last week seemed the perfect storm of potentially bad stuff happening. Respiratory symptoms recurred that should have been long gone. Friends reported strange ailments. Elderly moms (mine and others’) required immediate medical interventions. And our sports car took off on its own.

After a few worrying days, most things returned to near normal. Medical consultations occurred. Conditions  stabilized. And our car was successfully extracted from the neighbor’s backyard.

Oh, I guess that last one needs some explanation. It helps to know that my husband has lusted after this particular model sports car since age 14. Finally, in 2012, we bought a gently used 2005 Porsche 911. My one stipulation was that it be his everyday car. On Thursday he drove it to the store. Upon returning he asked: “Do you want the good news or the bad?” That’s never a good opener, and I opted for the good news. “No one got hurt.” The bad news? He had to show me.

I followed him into the garage, and I kept following him down the driveway, through the yard between two neighbors, down the terraced backyard of one neighbor, and to the creek bordering the local farm market. There it was. The Porsche. Looking perfect, but perfectly stuck in a ditch.

Funny thing about emergency brakes; when they fail, they cause their own emergencies. My husband had parked the car in the garage, set the brake, got out, and backed away. The car also backed away, slowly, on cat’s feet. My husband saw what was happening, but – luckily – didn’t make matters worse by attempting to stop a moving car.

He ran alongside until the car outpaced him. Then he watched it hop a curb, scamper down the neighbor's sloping lawn, and settle in the creek bed. It took 24 hours, three tow trucks and their operators, a winch, and the kindness of neighbors to get it unstuck. The professionals parked it safely on the flatbed and towed to the shop where the claims adjuster could have a look-see. Our insurance company, State Farm, couldn’t have been more responsive and even nice about the whole thing. And the neighbors were appropriately astounded and amused at our predicament.

We were lucky. Things could easily have gone sideways. Or, as the Brits say, pear-shaped. The car could have hit someone or something. It could have flipped or landed in the neighbor’s living room. Instead, it just went for a wander.

I consider last week one of near misses and dodged bullets. Things could have been a whole lot worse in a number of different ways. But they weren’t. And for that, I am truly grateful


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