I lose my car and a film project hangs in the balance.
ASTORIA, NYC- Our holiday vacation to Maine came to an abrupt end. It was Saturday, the day before Christmas Eve. The highways were packed with cars full of people, gifts, and luggage. Everyone was rushing home for the holidays and most of us were already frazzled from a morning of getting families ready to go and into the car on time. Traffic would intermittently speed up to 80 and then grind to a sudden halt — the most dangerous driving condition, in my opinion.
I wasn’t feeling good about the ride up to that point. I had a weird feeling. I just wasn’t comfortable. This was odd as I drive long distances often and it’s usually a way of travel that I enjoy — you kind of just ride and think, come up with new plans and reevaluate previous mistakes made, the hum of tires on pavement matching the rhythm of the hum of the mind.
Then, just inside of Connecticut on route 15 we went around a bend to find a line of cars in front of us completely stopped. We slowed down, came to a full stop. Took a breath. And boom.
The person behind us didn’t follow suit.
We had enough space that we didn’t crash into the car in front of us — unlike the crash in San Juan. So it was just us and the car behind us left all smashed up on the highway.
I went through my triage checklist. Is everyone ok? Yes. Am I in a safe place? No. Ok, how do I improve this? I will drive beyond the curve to that flat area off the road up ahead. Cool. Is my car functional? I don’t know. I will try to go forward a little. It still works. Cool. Now that I’m in a less compromised position how bad is the damage?
The bumper that we just had replaced in July after someone crashed into our car when it was parked was again destroyed and dangling off. I peered into the innards and found that the frame was bent bad. I figured that I could limp it back to NY but knew that there was a good chance that this would be our last ride in this car …
Ok, what about the other driver? I looked back on the road and a white sedan with a smashed up front end was on the other side peaking around the bend in a very precarious position. It hadn’t moved. Shit. Could the driver be injured? I went to find out.
I crossed the highway and found a buxom young girl in a knit poncho sitting in the driver’s seat looking shell shocked. Her car was packed full of stuff — like everyone else, she was returning home for the holidays. I walked up to her window and she rolled it down.
“Are you ok?”
She looked at me fearfully.
“I don’t know what to do,” she stammered.
“First, I think it would be a good idea to get your car out of the road.”
There wasn’t a shoulder on the left side and cars were swerving around her.
“Can you drive it still?”
“I don’t know. I think so.”
Her airbag had gone off but her vehicle appeared operable.
“Alright, try to drive it over there by us and we can exchange information.”
She did that and then got out of the car.
“What do I do now?” she asked.
I asked her for her insurance card and she dug it out. I took photos of it and the damage on her car. It was my plan then to just snap the pics and split. I asked her if she would be alright and could drive to somewhere nearby. She said that she couldn’t take her key out of the ignition or something and didn’t think she could drive. So she called Triple A and ordered a tow truck. I told her that I could wait with her.
Apparently, Triple A wanted us to file a police report and, honestly, it was a better idea for insurance reasons … and because I really didn’t know the accident laws in Connecticut — in some states you have to file a police report for all accidents.
I called the police and a half hour later a trooper showed up and did his thing. He blocked off traffic so we could get back onto the highway and we limped back to NYC with a hanging bumper and parts falling off onto the highway.
“This is like in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” my wife joked. Our car was decimated. Our trip was decimated. But we were still telling jokes … not bad.
But the closer we got to home the more I became aware of what this really means. I had a full slate of filming to do for the off-shore windfarms project in January that I can’t push back. It’s all regional travel and I need a full rig of gear … that means a vehicle.
Things just got a little more challenging.
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