Rick Wamre: When worlds collide —— or don’t

traffic, speed, roads, streets

I was sitting in the left-turn lane, waiting for the green light that would allow me to start moving again.

As I rotated my bored gaze through the intersection, I saw potholes (of course), as well as a car facing me and waiting to cross. The light turned green for that driver, and as she made her way through the intersection, a white flash blew through a red light and missed the back of the woman’s car by what seemed like the width of an iPad.

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The woman came rolling past me with her eyes bulging and her hand covering her mouth as she looked into her rear-view mirror, contemplating what had just happened.

Or more to the point, what had just not happened.

By the narrowest of margins, she had missed being destroyed by another driver. Even though she hadn’t seen what was happening as things unfolded, she appeared painfully aware of it all now.

The woman had done nothing wrong, but that wouldn’t have made much difference had she been at the joint of a T-bone crash.

I’ve been involved in my share of fender-benders over the years, none my fault as I like to tell my wife; each had damage enough to cost $1,000 to repair but none bad enough to cause a lucrative crick in my neck.
But I’ve also been involved in two pretty major crashes.

Once, a semi-truck pulling out of a driveway T-boned my car as I drove past, spinning me completely around and nearly into a huge electrical pole.

Another time, I was driving north on Central Expressway when an uninsured and speeding drunk driver pounded the back of my car.

Both times, I saw what was going to happen just before it did, not that there was anything I could do about it. Things unfolded, it was over, and I was fine.

And at the same intersection where I saw the woman barely escape a collision, virtually the same thing had happened to me years earlier.

As I drove through the intersection’s green light, for some reason I happened to look right, down the street across the passenger seat. And there, barreling toward me was a huge SUV. The driver was speeding, and he clearly wasn’t stopping.

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For whatever reason, I didn’t freeze. Instead, I jammed the accelerator to the floor, and my car slipped through the intersection just before the SUV.

No damage. No panic. Until, of course, I had rolled a block or so down the street, and I found myself breathing quickly and felt my skin go cold.

Why me? Or maybe a better question: Why not me?

That’s my question of the day: Why do bad things happen to anyone, and given how many of us there are continually drifting into each other’s paths, why don’t they happen more often?

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