In 1989 my grandparents of all people got the coolest car I’d ever seen. I was 8, and they got a brand new Oldsmobile Cutless Supreme. An Olds the coolest car ever? Oh yes. I remember the first time going for a ride in it; it was navy blue, was the quietest car I’d ever been in, and the dashboard panel looked like this:
I felt like I was in the Millennium Falcon.
For years they had this car as their “backup” vehicle, driving either my grandfather’s Olds Eighty-Eight or their Ford Bronco depending on what their second car was at the time.
In 2001 they started looking for a new car. I was driving a Geo Prism at the time, mostly using it to go back and forth from college to home on the weekends. Since my G-parents wanted a new one my mom talked them into giving the Cutless Supreme to ME. I paid the registration fee alone and received the coolest car ever, awesome digital dash, very low mileage, still a shiny dark blue. I looked forward to going back to college (about 50 miles from home) just for the short, casual commute.
One fall weekend I was on the way back home to go to a library book sale. It was a clear, bright day, sunny and unseasonably warm, when my Cutless Supreme made its last journey…
I was in the left lane, moved into the right near my exit. I glanced into my rear view mirror and saw a white Mustang (see THIS post about Mustang drivers) racing up behind me. I’ve always heard that in times of danger “time slows” I think it’s more accurate to say “the mind races.” It’s in these moments, where adrenaline flows and heart rates thunder that we see things in the same way a hummingbird does…racing metabolism seemingly slowing the world around us…
I knew from the pace and timing the Mustang couldn’t or wouldn’t stop. Not only did it NOT stop it didn’t even slow down. I was struck in the rear driver’s side and PIT maneuvered off the interstate at about 65 miles an hour. I’ve always been told I have an absurdly good memory and in this case have distinct memories of what went through my mind. I actually remembered my driving training before being hit (“no matter what go off to the right if there is a problem, that way you’re more likely to NOT hit another vehicle,” which explains why my rear driver’s side was hit); I remember a stand of small trees and thinking “Good, they’re small trees that will stop me from continuing in the unstoppable plunge off the road without crushing me utterly;” I then remember seeing them go to my left and vanish from view as I spun. Apparently what happened next was the rear of the car struck a steel lamp post in the exit and the spin was brought to a sudden halt. When I made the trip home weeks later I saw navy blue paint about 6 feet up the post demonstrating how far up the car crumpled before arresting its momentum.
The next thing I remember is trying to open the driver’s side door, which was stuck. I got angry slid over to the passenger door and kicked it free. I crawled out and to my surprise people had already gathered. When did they have the time to do all that? One woman implored me to sit down, but I was too busy looking for my phone so I could call home to tell them what happened. A guy in scrubs rushed over and told me he was a LifeFlight Nurse from Vandy Hospital and asked me to sit down. He held my neck to prevent any further trauma and I tried to call home. Our home number had recently been changed (it had been the same since 1987) and after I dialed and handed the phone to nurse he said “the number says it isn’t available.” I responded, “Dammit, they just changed it. I swear this isn’t brain damage.” I dialed the new number and when my mom answered I said, “Mom I just got into a car accident.” She said, “How bad is it?” Not thinking I responded, “Well the LifeFlight Nurse is here.” To which I heard a, “WHAT?!” and Immediately clarified, “no, no he was just passing by!” (People don’t do that to your mothers…)
They loaded me into an ambulance on a big, orange plastic board and someone asked “What happened?” I had no idea who, I was strapped down staring at the ceiling of an emergency medical vehicle and responded, “Well…someone hit me.”
I was taken to a major ER where I received between 230-300 stitches and Dr. Grimmet (I still remember her name) stayed for over two hours (much to the chagrin of the other ER staff who wanted her to assist elsewhere) to finish suturing my left arm which needed by far the most work. I also got sutures on my eyelid which I won’t lie FREAKED me the EFF out.
After about 6 hours getting sewn up in the ER I went home and slept on the couch for a few hours. I woke up a couple times, once to see our cat, Sweetie Pie, peeking over the couch at me in awe and wonder almost saying, “You smell like the guy who lives here but you don’t look like him…” I met her gaze for a moment before she fled the scene in horror!
I actually couldn’t make any calls so I sent my RevPub partner an email telling her what happened before passing out (I have never lived down the fact that I related the crisis via email…) She called and talked to my mom to check on me. My grandfather showed up the next morning and said, “What did you do to my car?!” and a good laugh was had by all.
My dad went to the local wrecking yard to take pics for insurance purposes and here’s what he came back with. To this day I can’t help but think only a few months before I was in a Geo Prism…I don’t think it would’ve fared as well…
Next month, the epic battle between a rear-end collision victim and his own insurance company!