“Look out your window! Our neighbors have a branch down and there are TONS of deer out there like it’s an open buffet!” Caren called with this exciting bit of neighborhood news just a few minutes after I had brought the kids in from the bus stop and had them settled in to do homework.
“Oh, yeah…look at that… It’s like a salad bar.”
I figured Caren must’ve just gotten home. She would drive by that neighbor’s house on the way to hers. She never talks on the phone while driving so she must’ve been home. We talked a little about the unexpected snow fall (about an inch) and a few other things that I can’t recall and then…
“OH MY GOSH!” Caren shouted.
I could hear the phone clatter.
Oops. She dropped the phone.
“MICHAL!!! MICHAL!! I’M SLIDING OFF THE ROAD! OH NO!”
“Caren?! Are you driving?”
Jesus, help her!
I listened in terror to her yelling and to horrible crunching sounds.
No, no,no. Nothing can happen to her.
“MICHAL?! CAN YOU HEAR ME? OH MY GOSH! I ROLLED! I WRECKED NEAR LAUREL’S!”
That’s in our neighborhood. I yelled back to Caren that I was there that I heard it all and that I was coming. I jumped into my snowboots without bothering with socks, grabbed my keys and told the boys that Ms. Caren had been in an accident.
“I will be right back. Stay here. I have to go get her.”
“What?! By ourselves?”
“You’ll be fine. I’ll be right back. Just stay here.”
I realized I might need my coat, grabbed that and ran out, all the while shouting to Caren that I was on my way. There was a brief thought that if Caren slid out on the ice then I might not should be driving out on it either. After all, she is much more experienced!
“I’M COMING CAREN!”
“HELP! CAN ANYONE HEAR ME?!” and then there was just the sound of a horn blaring.
Worst Case Scenario: She’s blacked out and her head is laying on the horn. Best Case Scenario: She is trying to attract the attention of passerby to come and help.
I reluctantly hung up the phone and called Laurel.
“Caren has been in an accident.”
“Go find her. She wrecked near your house!”
“GO! I could hear her on the phone and she’s yelling for help!”
“OK. I’m going to look for her.”
Finally I had gotten the sense of urgency that I was needing to hear from Laurel. Just then I was driving past the Fire Chief’s house.
Maybe he’s home! He could help.
I called him and told him what was happening and he said he’d come have a look.
I drove past Laurel’s and saw her van and a white truck. There were tire tracks in the road going down to a steep, 12 foot drop off. Caren’s car was upside down at the bottom. Caren came up out of the ditch with the assistance of a Good Samaritan (the white truck’s driver).
Thank you God!
One hand was wrapped in a bloody cloth, the other clutched a bunch of things. A phone, sunglasses, something else…
“The seatbelt worked! It was totally awesome!” she cheered.
“This is not awesome. Why are you moving around? You shouldn’t be moved. Get in my car. Are you OK?”
“I’ve got a goose egg…” she said reaching to the back of her head.
“You’re bleeding.” I unwrapped her hand. It was pretty bloody but was really a small cut.
“There’s glass on my lip…” she said picking at it. Once she was settled I went to see the wreck.
The Fire Chief looked her over as his radio squawked about another accident on the freeway near our hood. Another gentleman arrived. Caren had just come from skiing and so we unloaded her ski gear and transferred it to my car. Laurel went to pick up Caren’s other daughters.
“She looks OK. I don’t think we need to call anyone out,” said The Chief. “She hit her head though so she can’t be alone tonight.”
“She’ll be with me all night.” Both of our husbands were either out-of-town or out for the night on business.
“If she starts to talk funny, has blurred vision…these kind of things, don’t hesitate to call or take her to the ER.”
“If she talks funny? That may be hard to decipher,” I teased.
Meanwhile the other neighbors were hell-bent on getting a butcher block table that was in the back of Caren’s truck, up out of the embankment.
“Just leave it!” Caren told them. “We can come back for it another time.”
But they insisted. We watched as they wrapped the table in tarp and then tied rope around it.
“I would help them.”
“Normally, yes. I’ll go help them.”
But they didn’t need me. The rope was hitched to an ATV and up it came. The guys loaded it into the back of my car along with the other stuff.
“You’re freezing! Don’t you have a coat?” Caren asked, noticing me shivering in the falling snow.
“Oh! I do!” I remembered the coat I had grabbed at the last-minute and threw it on, thankful that I had the ware-with-all to bring it.
Caren safe and the kids assigned new drivers, everyone left and we were left alone to sit and wait for AAA to arrive. While waiting we both made various phone calls. Our nurse friend, Kathy called.
“Michal, Kathy said that if I start to repeat myself we need to see a doctor.”
“Michal, Kathy said that if I start to repeat myself…”
“Oh, this is gonna be a long night,” I laughed.
“My phone is running out of battery,” Caren said.
“You can just use my phone.”
“But my numbers are in my phone. My charger is in the car. Would you go get it?” I hesitated. “I would get it but…”
“Oh fine. I’ll try.”
“Here, take my gloves.”
There was a piece of glass in them so I shook them out, put them on and headed down into the ditch. It’s a very steep drop so I opted to sit on my butt and slide down. Some snow got in my boots that, in my rush, never got zipped up. I really wished I had put socks on. I picked up speed and nearly ran right into the car. I got up and examined the wreck. The back windows had been knocked out by the butcher block table. The driver side had collapsed in more than the passenger side. Most of the doors were stuck. I thought I could go through the back hatch. I opened it and peered in. There was lots of broken glass and I was not sure I was going to be able to go through to the front seat.
How did she get out of here?
I decided it wasn’t worth it and got out. I tried to close the back hatch but it was too heavy and I couldn’t lift it. I headed back up the embankment. Our friend Robby was there with Caren’s oldest daughter who wanted to see that her mom was OK. Another neighbor arrived with her fifth grader. They gave us some extra blankets to use while we waited for AAA. Caren had told them that I had gone down for her charger.
“I can’t get it,” I confessed.
“Maybe my son can,” the mother of the fifth grader offered.
“Want to try, bud?” I asked him. He seemed gung-ho enough and so together we slid back down to the wreckage. I tried the rear passenger door, figuring that was how Caren had gone to get out. The boy peeked inside. Suddenly his excitement seemed to wan.
“It’s a little unnerving, isn’t it?”
“Yeah,” he whispered.
“You don’t have to go in if you don’t want. It’s no big deal.”
“No, I can do it.”
“OK, it’s going to be near the front of the car.”
He put both hands on the car and sort of pushed it to check for stability.
“It’s not going to slide any farther. I’ll stay here in case anything happens.”
I did have a worry that it could collapse in a little more but nothing had changed while the guys had unloaded all of her gear and the table so…
“Just watch all the glass,” I told him.
The boy crawled in and rummaged around for a bit. He came back out.
“I can’t find it.”
“Here, let me try. Stay here though.”
I crawled in on the roof of the car. I had affectionately named this car Stink Bug because the carpets smelled from wet boots and possibly spilled milk. The roof was much cleaner than the carpets that were now above me. There was debris and glass but I noticed the roof had no large stains like the carpet. I crawled to the front and could see the charger dangling from the plug. I couldn’t get in-between the front seats though. I thought about adjusting the seats but with it being upside down it was kind of hard to tell how to do it and I didn’t want to jostle the seemingly fragile state of the truck.
“I can see it but I can’t reach it. If you are up for it, I can tell you where it is. Want to go again?”
I talked him through it. He quickly located the charger and emerged from the car.
“Good job, man!” I praised him and we headed back up out. Before we got out of the ditch his mom appeared at the top.
“Also, she wants her Bobbi Brown lip gloss,” she called down to us.
The boy started to head back and then Robby appeared at the top.
“No. Don’t get it. That’s just the shock talking.”
I called to the boy to leave it and we climbed out. I found Caren in my car and gave her the charger.
“Oh thank you! Can you get my Bobbi Brown lip gloss too?”
“No. You don’t need that.”
“But my lips chap easy.”
“I have chapstick you can use. Is it a special color or something?”
“No, but it is kind of expensive…”
“I will buy you knew Bobbi Brown lip gloss tomorrow.”
The boy’s mom gave us a rotisserie chicken, that she had just bought, for our dinner and Robby took Caren’s oldest and hers to my house to check on all of the kids. At this point all of Caren’s and mine were together there. Probably complete Lord of the Flies. We made some more calls.
Man’s response: “Glad she is safe. All I have to say is she better get those snow tires off before they total it.”
SNOW TIRES!!!! Not the time to be making a point.
AAA finally arrived. It was the same toothless guy that pulled my car out in January. He was not really wanting to even pull it out. All of his flat beds were at the freeway accident. We finally convinced him to at least give it a try. We watched as he first turned the car upright and then he began to pull her out. Stink Bug’s butt finally came up over the edge and onto the road. Caren wanted her insurance information so I got out to get it before Toothless drove away.
As I headed toward the car another truck pulled up and emptied a driver who had on a coat similar to the Chief’s and identified himself as a paramedic. He asked if anyone needed to be checked out. I told him that she already had. I told Toothless that I needed to get her insurance and registration from the car.
“Well, I would have no idea where that is,” he groused.
“I would think that it would be in the glove compartment,” suggested the paramedic.
“My thoughts exactly,” I said as I struggled with the passenger door. The paramedic had to help me pry it open. He pulled it back and held it so I could wedge myself in. The glove box was jammed too but I managed to get it open. Important papers were in a folder but there was lots of other stuff too that I thought Caren might want so I grabbed it all. When I returned to Caren I emptied the bounty into her lap.
“YEA!” she cheered as she went through her belongings.
At home, Robby and Her Man helped us make dinner for the kids as Caren recounted the accident and we all vowed to never talk on the phone while driving and to always wear a seatbelt no matter how short the drive. Caren told us that a few year back, when her kids were just Littles, there had been a report of an accident on the news. The driver had a tool to cut themself free from their seatbelt. Everyone started to buy this tool for their key chains.
“I didn’t because I always keep scissors in my glove box, but ever since then I devised a plan for what I would do in that situation and how I would free my kids. Though I should not have been on the phone it was kind of a good thing because I was able to tell Michal where I was and to get help. I kept yelling because I didn’t know if she could hear me. I was only going about 10 miles per hour and the whole accident was really slow. I only rolled once and then I just dangled there from my seatbelt. I thought I could hear Michal and so I tried to turn the radio off with my toe.”
Weird. We have laughed about this and we guess she used her toe to turn it off because her feet were dangling in front of her.
“Then I stretched out and tried to reach my glove box. I had to get out because I didn’t know if anyone had heard my horn honk, I was still not sure Michal heard any of it, it was snowing and I was unseen from the road. I just knew that if I could get those scissors then I could cut myself out! About that time Good Samaritan showed up. He asked me if I could move my leg. I moved it around to show him that I could. ‘No,’ he said, ‘I meant, could you move it out of my way.’ Then he told me to prepare myself because he was going to release me from the seatbelt. I put my hands on the ceiling and told him I was ready. Then he reached over and *click* unbuckled me.”
We were cracking up now!
“Why didn’t you try to just unbuckle yourself before going for your scissors?”
“Because I had been planning this for years!”
We had a pretty restless night. I slept on the couch next to Caren’s chair. Reclining bothered her head. I think we woke up every hour due to uncomfortable sleeping positions, endorphins, and worry. In the morning Caren did not feel quite right.
“Let’s go to the doctor just to be safe.”
At the ER she was assessed and found to be in good shape aside from a minor concussion. They did a CT scan just in case. Caren was quickly returned to me and we sat and waited and waited. Time was spent returning concerned phone calls and texts.
“This is ridiculous. What’s taking so long? You are the only person here?”
“I don’t know,” Caren said, “but I’m starving!”
“Lunch. As soon as we get out of here. I know….I’ll entertain you!” I grabbed a latex glove from the many boxes mounted on the wall. I did a short cabaret, twirling the glove around near my hip while singing “Let Me Entertain You.” Then I took the balloon and blew it up into a balloon like I did for kids when I was a dental assistant. It was just then that the doctor decided to show up. Caren was given some final instructions and we were quickly dismissed.
“Apparently they do not like you playing with their toys…” I tied off our glove-balloon and drew a face on him. “Mr. Glover will be joining us today.”
Caren clapped and took pictures. She sent it to our friends with the caption “I am in good hands.”
Lunch was back up the hill with many other concerned friends. All hugged and loved on our Caren, so grateful that she has nothing more than a bump and a cut. I had a massage scheduled that day and called to make it for two. Before the massage we took Mr. Glover on a field trip to see the car.
“Woa,” Caren said. “It’s different seeing it upright and in the light of day.”
“Yeah. It is,” the sight still made my stomach roll a bit.
Caren rummaged around in her car.
“What are you doing?”
She popped out with her Bobbi Brown lip gloss and some gum.
“YES!” She laughed and waved her gloss around.
“Oh dear Lord. You and that lip gloss.”
“I love it!”
The body shop said that due to The Higlander being a high value car, insurance would probably want them to fix it.
“No! It’s totaled. Please don’t fix it unless you can get the stink out,” Caren lamented.
“We can replace the carpet for you.”
Later we were driving back from dropping her daughter off at a weekend camp. We stopped to get gas and Caren bought a huge bag of Skittles.
“I haven’t had Skittles in ages!” I said as I dug in. “Taste the rainbow!”
“Yes, nothing tastes so good as artificial fruit flavors!”
We ate them till our belly’s ached.
“Ug,” Caren said as she closed up the bag.
“Take them home for your daughters.”
“No way. I don’t want these in my house. You take them home.”
“Well, I don’t want them.”
“Here, I’ll put them in your glove box. In case of an emergency or something.”
“Oh perfect. I can see myself dangling by my seat belt…” I reached for the glove box. “Must. Get. Skittles.”
We laughed until tears rolled.
“I will not starve!” Caren squealed as she too tried to reach the enclosed Skittles.
We howled some more.
“What were you thinking? Why didn’t you just unbuckle?”
“I told you! I was in survivor mode,” she laughed. “I was probably left like that for all of ten seconds! And when that guy unbuckled me I totally felt like I landed all cool….like a cat on all fours. It was probably more of a thud!”
More howling laughter!
“Can you move your leg?” I guffawed. Caren demonstrated with a can-can leg.
We laughed all the way home! I love that woman. She has been my life-line since moving up here. I am so thankful for all the angels who certainly surrounded her car and for all of the friends and neighbors who came out to help. God will surely bless you all! As Caren said, it may have all been to keep her from the huge accident that had happened on the freeway just minutes after hers.
God is good. Buckle up and be safe!