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Brake check

Posted on November 26th, 2013 by george.
Categories: Uncategorized.

Rafa had a rough night and Lorenia has had a cold since yesterday, so I stayed at the house this morning and watched the little guy so she could get some rest. On the way in to work I texted a few coworkers and took their orders for takeout since our food options at work are very limited, and the closest independent restaurant is a twenty minute drive one way. After leaving the restaurant I was headed north on Courtenay in the left lane, doing about 50 in a 45, when I suddenly found myself screaming at the top of my lungs. “WHAT THE **** ARE YOU DOING YOU SON OF A *****! ******* IT!” I realized I was at a dead stop in the left lane, my view out the windshield completely blocked by a stationary, mid-90s black sedan (maybe a Buick). I took stock. My neck, right thumb, and throat were all sore. Ah, I was still honking. And the primal screaming explained the throat. I played back the last few moments in my head to try to figure out what had happened.

Ok, so I’m cruising along, listening to Elliott Smith. My eyes are on the road ahead. The next light is green, as is the one after that. There’s a tall truck in the right lane merging over into the right turn lane to make a right turn into a parking lot. Ah, now I remember. Just past the nose of the truck I spotted a black sedan pulling out. At this point he was in my peripheral vision, close to the A-pillar. Things slow down. Surely he’s turning right? No. He’s pulling out blind into five lanes of traffic at lunchtime. I cannot recall sending the signal to my right foot to brake, my left foot to engage the clutch, or my right hand to take the transmission out of fifth and then move to the horn, because it was instinct. I do remember threshold braking from 50 to zero. I didn’t realize the sedan was stopping in the middle of the road, just that I needed to avoid where he was at that moment, and I had cars to my right moving with me and to my left stopped in the suicide lane. The only option was to stop. At a distance of about two cars lengths my brain somehow realized I wasn’t going to stop in time, and overrode the threshold braking in a panic. I distinctly remember the feeling in my right foot as the ABS pulsed the brakes. One piece of technology saved me from another: stopping short and missing the other car kept the airbag from deploying. The split-second recall was done, and now I realized the driver was still sitting in front of me. I was still honking. He couldn’t move because not only had he pulled out into traffic blind, he had neglected the fact that the center lane was full. Once the traffic moved, he slowly pulled into the suicide lane. I stopped honking. When he had to swing wide to drive around me, I realized just how close I’d come: I was angled slightly to the right in my lane so that my left front bumper could miss his driver side door. I looked at his license plate in my side mirror as I pulled away, dumbfounded that he hadn’t waved or shrugged or offered the least bit of contrition. I managed to catch that it was a Florida plate, but I wasn’t in a state of mind to memorize it. Besides, what legal recourse is there for an almost-accident when I’m the only angry witness? Florida driver. He doesn’t even have the excuse of being from out of town. Even now I cannot fathom what would possess someone to pull into traffic blind. Was he drunk? High? He wasn’t elderly.

I looked down and was amazed. The restaurant had packed our four lunches tightly into a cardboard box, and I’d put it in the passenger foot well. All the sushi was pushed up against the front side of the clear container, but none of the soup, salads or curries had escaped. Lunch had survived.

Within ten seconds of pulling away I hear Lorenia’s ring tone. “How did you know to call me?” I asked. “I felt like throwing up, but not because I’m sick,” she replied. I recounted the story to her, thankful that I managed to save a car that I couldn’t replace for the amount of money insurance would pay out.

Brake check: successful. Old man reflexes: still good. I just wish my neck wasn’t so sore.

3 comments.

Sholeh

Comment on November 26th, 2013.

oh my God! I’m so glad you’re ok.

Lorenia

Comment on November 26th, 2013.

I still don’t fully understand why I was compelled to call. I really just felt sick for you. Crazy.

Atoosa

Comment on November 27th, 2013.

So glad your OMH reflexes saved you. I’d say you were entitled to some righteous anger. For the neck, I recommend fish oil, hanging upside down and massage. I remember those **$#*% Florida drivers. I think I had 2-3 near miss accidents a day when I lived there.

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