Driving I-287 East. A long day, longer.

I duck out of the office. It’s been a long day.

Waze flashes an estimate for a quick ride home: 28 minutes.  The Dark Sky App sends an alert: Large storm is bearing down.

I’m one mile from the exit to I-95 on I-287.

The sky blackens.

A few leaves gust and float overhead.

Another wind gust blows a large swarm of leaves from the hillside, they hang mid-air, swirl and gust upward in a wind tunnel. Ominous.

Then comes the rain.

Then darkness.

A large tree topples from the hillside slamming into the car.  It slashes across the the hood. It snaps the windshield, an ax swing on a frozen lake.  It smashes the headlamp and rips the side mirror from the door.

Tinsel sparkles in the cabin. Tinsel? Glass shards spray the passenger seat, my shirt, my pants and fill eye sockets with grit.

The car is on the left shoulder.

There’s zero recollection of braking from 67 mph to zero.

There’s no recollection of the car being swung onto the left shoulder off the expressway. Now that’s a bit rattling.

I glance in the rear view mirror. The giant tree is now behind me laying across 2 lanes of the three-lane highway. Rubberneckers slow on the opposite side. Headlights from rush hour traffic begin to back up.

It can’t be but 3 minutes and sirens from NY State Police approach, with a giant tow truck tailing behind.

“Sir, are you ok?”

“Yes, I’m fine.”

“Will you need a tow?”

“I think I can make it.”

The trooper completes the accident report. “Sir, your windshield is in bad shape, please take care.”

I get home, 90 minutes beyond Waze’s estimated arrival time. I’m stripping off my shoes, jacket, tie, pants and then I pause to steady myself, my shaking hands.

You can plan all you want to…you still believe you are doing fine.

You can plan all you want to. You can lie in your morning bed and fill whole notebooks with schemes and intentions. But within a single afternoon, within hours or minutes, everything you plan and everything you have fought to make yourself can be undone as a slug is undone when salt is poured on him. And right up to the moment when you find yourself dissolving into foam you can still believe you are doing fine.

That’s a passage from Wallace Stegner’s classic Crossing to Safety. It immediately came to mind as I collapsed onto the couch.

Crossing to Safety.


Notes:

  • Photo: Driver’s side window of my car from the inside. Thank you Susan for the photo.
  • Related Posts: Commuting Series.

Comments

  1. So glad you made it out alright.
    Yes, we can plan all we want…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh David! this really happened? and you are fine? How did you drive on,,,and get home–you have powerful intention…and we all know, nothing can stop you! So sorry you had to go through this, but so glad you are safe!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There’s a wake up call you could do without! 😩 Glad you are safe and unhurt Mr K.
    It’s true, ‘Llife’ just laughs at our plans.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. glad you are okay, david, though you will be a bit changed forever in some ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m glad you are OK. You lead a very exciting life. Great blogging fodder.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. lkanigan says:

    Hey Bro glad you are ok!!
    I think you deserve a pint of mint ice cream tonight to help you recover…if there is any left from from the other night!😜

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dissolving into foam …. and living to tell the tale. Thank you for relating this close call Dave. 🙏 Grateful to have you here 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That would be SO scary! You must have a trunk load of lucky horseshoes! Glad you’re okay. Whew!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. O Lord! To think how even worse it could’ve been, but honestly, how terrible! I’m so thankful you’re alright.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You sure keep it exciting around here. Enough, already!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Jee-zus, David! I’m sure some of the “what-ifs” came swirling through your brain once you were safe and sound at home. That was beyond a close call.
    I am extremely glad you are okay, though shaken up.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Bonnie Robbins says:

    I know the feeling, ran into a deer crossing the freeway during a bad windstorm, spun me around…massive bruising/hematoma, other than that ok. The deer could have come through my windshield but timing worked in my favour I still have the memory of him flying up and tumbling head first back to the ground. What I don’t understand is how I ended up sitting on the side of the median with the deer underneath my car. Sleepless nights and In the end relief, and an understanding that life had given me a gift, for now…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Makes you think, David, not even a second between here and… well… not here!
    Maybe a ‘count your blessings’ call…?
    xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh my friend, I am so glad you are ok. I’m amazed you drove home, yet also not surprised at all. The need to reclaim one’s footing in the world, reinforce that we have some control despite the knowledge that we don’t. I am grateful and hope your heart can stop shaking as quickly as your hands.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Christie says:

    Praising God for your protection…So Grateful You Are Alive…your fall post op, Eric finding you bleeding after being unconscious, the airplane emergency landing and now this shocking accident. We know your loving Susan will take great care of you. Take tomorrow off and Please go to eye doctor, that grit could be glass!! Take some Vit B complex to help with the unsteadiness.
    “A large tree topples from the hillside slamming into the car. It slashes across the the hood. It snaps the windshield, “an ax swing on a frozen lake”. It smashes the headlamp and rips the side mirror from the door.
    Tinsel sparkles in the cabin. Tinsel? Glass shards spray the passenger seat, my shirt, my pants and fill eye sockets with grit.” your writing such an amazing capture…
    Take it easy and rest easy,
    God Bless You and your family

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Oh dear David, God saved you, this is scary and also your way of home too… I am so glad you are fine. Blessing and Happiness to you and your family dear David, Love, nia

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Lorraine Mahoney says:

    Harrowing! So grateful you are safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. freddiegeorgia says:

    Holy Crap! You deserve a day off… at home…with lots of Talenti. Have it delivered. Gotta get that windshield fixed anyway. So glad it wasn’t any worse. Troublesome when something like that happens and ‘the rattles’ stay with you for a very long time. Have an easy day today…please?

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Shaken into the reality that I never know how life can “shake me”. Your experience just reminded me.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Stephen says:

    Well, trust you to find an extreme manner to snap us out of our morning fog! Your running times may slow with age my friend, but clearly your reflexes and instinct are functioning perfectly. Glad to know you made it through unscathed, rattling aside …. though if we are being perfectly honest, hasn’t there been a rattle of some kind whenever you move, for quite some time? Be safe my friend and enjoy your reprieve.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Anonymous says:

    F*ck! The klaxon started bellowing at “grit in the eye sockets.” Is all well there? And the rest of your slammed-about body? I remember after getting hit by a drunk driver, the bruises and broken fingers making themselves known. Natural Disaster, man. Or Natural Disaster Man.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi. Like Klaxon! Had to look it up. Eye drops and eye gel seems to have done the trick overnight. As to Natural Disaster, man or Natural Disaster Man – it all depends on the day. 🙂

      Like

  22. F*ck! The klaxon started blaring at “grit in the eye sockets.” Is all well there? And the rest of your slammed-about body? I remember after getting hit by a drunk driver how the deep bruising and broken fingers came late to the party. Keep the door open for some of those tardy guests.

    A TREE fell on you fer f*ck’s sake!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Wow, pal, that sounds harrowing!! So very glad that you were able to walk (or rather drive) away. I understand the need to drive home in your car…some semblance of normalcy when everything else has been ripped asunder. Please take it easy and take care of yourself….

    Like

    • Thanks Lori. Yes, feel lucky. Feel luckier after reading this article this morning.

      Deadly Storms Sweep Through New York Region, Stranding Commuters Commuters inside Grand Central Terminal on Tuesday. The New York Times
      May 15, 2018

      ******A conveyor belt of thunderstorms accompanied by gusty winds rolled through the New York region on Tuesday afternoon, snarling train service, knocking out the power for tens of thousands of residents and killing at least two people who were struck by falling trees.

      Meteorologists said a line of thunderstorms between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. produced widespread wind damage from upstate New York through the metro area, and across Long Island and Connecticut.

      The storms were accompanied by wind gusts of 50 to 60 miles per hour, which downed trees and power lines and left scores of people without electricity. In Connecticut alone, more than 100,000 customers were without power, according to Eversource. New York State Electric & Gas reported more than 70,000 customers without electricity as of about 9 p.m

      Liked by 1 person

  24. lol, you drove it home!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Oh God! When these things happen you truly realize the miracle of life. Rest your body and soul now, you’ll need a while to process this. Glad you’re ok.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Natalie Roberts says:

    There’s an Angel watching over you, or maybe a few. Glad to hear you’re ok. Maybe someone’s way of saying ‘time to slow down and enjoy Life!’

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Wow, Dave. So glad you’re okay.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Michael Zahaby says:

    Glad you are safe my friend. What a scary experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. you’ve captured how fragile life is. glad you are OK.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. And there was me, thinking of ‘what a strange photo of blades of grass in the water’ before reading that harrowing account of your ‘quick drive home’. Goodnes me, me thinks you might have already used up all your ‘allowances’ for the year 2018. I’m so thankful that you got away nearly undamaged, apart from a pretty much mangled car. Could you please try to take it a bit easier for the next 7 months, pleasediplease…. I don’t think I can take much more of your ‘running too fast for too long, falling to the ground with extensive damage to your body, hanging in over-full trains and squeezing in too tightly seated planes, and and and.
    You seem to live on credit for some time now. Slow down friend. PLEASE

    Liked by 1 person

  31. So glad you’re okay.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. It is said that man plans and God laughs. Glad you are ok! (are you really?)😘

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Wow! Glad you’re okay. You’ve obviously got good, sharp instincts/driving skills. Well done for keeping control when it mattered most.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Oh, so very grateful you’re safe, David.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. I am truly happy to read you’re fine. Our instincts take over when something like that happens. The quote says it all. We seldom realize how little control we have in the big scheme of things. A reminder to live in the present and to be grateful for life itself. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  36. “Dissolve into foam” What a great phrase and visual. I’m glad you got home safely despite the big slug of salt that almost dissolved you into foam.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. You live to tell the tale. TBTG.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Thank you Perpetua. Yes.

    Like

  39. Oh my! These are the things I have nightmares about. Glad you are OK. Can’t believe you drove home after that. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  40. So so sorry you went through this. Like you, I spend a lot of my life in a vehicle on highways near you
    with a lot of big old heavy trees. I’ve been missing a lot of social life recently because i just won’t drive in that weather on those roads with those risks. Thank heaven you are OK!

    Liked by 1 person

  41. What a rattling experience this must have been for you! Just reading it and seeing the pic of the windshield made me tense. And the missing memory – so typical of a traumatic experience. Very glad you are ok.

    Liked by 1 person

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