Timing is everything in life. The long suffering wife always adds â€œYeah and we have the worst.â€
Usually I agree with her. This, as all married men will agree, is the safest route to follow. However the other day, for once, my timing was spot on. Had I left thirty seconds earlier or gone a little bit faster on my trip to work I would now be, at the very least, driving a rental car. Or breathing with the help of a machine.
Of course if I had left later I would never even have been aware of how close to the edge I came. Thatâ€™s the timing thing.
It was one of those typical December Northeast Pa. mornings.Â A little snow, a little ice, a little wind and the thermometer on my dashboard refusing to show anything above freezing.
Bridges freeze before roads.Â I laugh at those signs in August. Maybe they should take them down in warm months because we tend to ignore things we see every day that donâ€™t apply to us.Â The signs that cry wolf.
I am pretty sure the young man in the black SUV either didnâ€™t see or heed the warning. That would help to explain why he slid sharply into my lane on the Nanticoke Bridge and came at me sideways.
Like many things that happen in a motor vehicle it happened really fast. One moment I was thinking about what I had to do that day, half listening to something on the radio and moving and grooving towards my destination.
The next moment I see impending doom. He must have been going at what the accident report would have said was a high rate of speed. It sure looked like he was. I hit the brakes, and then looked at my mirror. Whatever little bit of luck I was having that day stayed with me. No one was behind me.
I am stopped dead. He is now bouncing off my side of the bridge and bearing down on me. I am completely at the mercy of laws of physics. Velocity, inertia and momentum are a big part of my future at that moment.
Itâ€™s clear that the SUV is completely out of control. It spins across the road, does a graceful 180 and heads back towards me. I am not sure but I believe I said â€œEek!â€
Famous last words.
Elapsed time: a few erratic heartbeats.
The best part.
The young man in the SUV finally regains control. Stops beside me. I look at him.
I am sure my mouth is hanging open and my eyes are wide. I am not, at the moment, mad. I am wondering if I have to change my underwear.
He gives me the finger.
He drives off and I take in some air. It fills my lungs and I am really not sure how I feel.
Five minutes later I am at the counter of the convenience store. Â I am still shaking so bad that the coffee is frothing out of the vent of the cup that took me three tries to fill.
The cashier looks at me. Â She says â€œAre you ok, hun?â€
I told her the story. She looked at me and said â€œItâ€™ll be ok, hun. A dollar forty nine please.â€