Monday, May 12, 2008

Bidding On The Farm (Part 2)

Once the thunder had died down and the sense of shock had worn off, I was able to calm myself enough to take stock of my environment. There was a lot of smoke about, a lot of people milling about on the side of the road, a bunch of slow moving vehicles passing by and somebody near by was playing REM at full volume. Once I realized it was me, I groggily flopped my hand around the dashboard to turn off my radio. When I turned my head back around to the window, someone stuck their head inside so that we were practically nose to nose which scared the hell out of me, causing me to jump and set off the pain in my back again.

Still very disoriented from the impact, I had a hard time making out what the guy in my window was shouting at me but I knew it was something about having gas. This should have come as no surprise to me considering that it would be nothing short of a miracle if I had not left a giant streak mark clear up the back of the driver’s seat to the headrest. Cognizant of the fact that I had not understood a single word he had said, he reached in, grabbed my keys and turned the engine to my car off. “You’re leaking fuel all over the place. We need to get you out of here. Are you OK?”

“I don’t know.” I answered, glad to be able to understand him. “My back hurts. Give me a minute.”

“I’d rather not. I’ll be right back. I’m gonna get somebody over here to help me carry you.”

After he left, I started doing a body check. I wiggled my toes, they were fine. Ditto for my feet. My knees seemed to move OK but when I tried to move my legs at the hips, they did not want to do exactly what I told them to. I chalked them up as a “maybe”. On the bright side, I knew that I was not paralyzed.

When I tried to move my back however, I could tell that I was hurt. The sharp stabbing pain I felt during the accident was gone, but it was replaced by an intense ache that turned absolutely unbearable if I moved wrong. Still, I could live with it. Head, neck, shoulders, arms and chest just felt like I had worked out a little bit too hard but other than this minor discomfort, were just fine. I felt I could walk out of the crash. At least I could have if the door would have opened.

Luckily when the guy who was helping me came back, he brought a couple of friends. The three of them yanked on my door to open it but it just was not going to give. Eventually they took a step back, looked the car over and decided to try to pull the back door open. It took all three of them, but they did it. After that, it only took two to get mine open.

Standing up out of the car was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. Walking was a different matter altogether though. Buoyed by the confidence of being able to get up myself, I took my first step and nearly fell flat on my face in the middle of the interstate as new bolts of pain shot up and down my back. My legs seemed as if they were made of rubber and I had to be helped to the shoulder by one of the guys who helped me get out of the car. Once he got me out of traffic, he took off to attend to the person in the car who hit me and I was left to survey the scene by myself.

It was about this time that the police showed up along with one of the highway courtesy patrols, so what I saw was a vision of total confusion. There was all kinds of twisted metal and plastic debris strewn across the road. There was snarled traffic, honking horns, flashing lights, people talking in loud voices. There was some screaming, a lot of cursing and two police officers running around trying to simultaneously re-direct traffic and try to figure out what had happened. It was a completely new sensation for me. I was not used to being in the center of that level of chaos. Usually, I would be long gone before the cops showed up.

As one of the officers scanned the crowd for witnesses, another crossed the expressway and started looking for something in the median. Eventually, his partner got to me and asked my who I was. “Jep.”

“No, I mean what are you doing here?”

I pointed to my demolished car. “I’m here because that thing doesn’t seem capable of taking me anywhere else at the moment.”

“That’s your car?”

“Yeah.”

“You were driving?”

“Yeah.”

“Was anybody with you?”

“Nope.”

The officer called out to his partner, who was still looking around the expressway for something. “Forget it! I found him! He’s right here!”

I never dawned on me that no one bothered to tell the police that I was OK. Then come to think of it, I never saw the three guys who pulled me out of the car either. True Samaritans, it appeared that they stopped, made sure everyone was safe, pulled me out of my car and then left without giving anyone a chance to thank them. The funny thing was, everyone else was so focused on the woman who hit me (who was in far worse shape) that no one saw me emerge from my vehicle. Other than my back being hurt, I did not have a scratch on me and just sort of blended into the crowd gathering on the shoulder. Once the officer outed me however, the crowd shifted from the woman in the Hyundai to me and a half dozen people started talking to me at once:

“I saw the whole thing!”

“She didn’t even try to hit her brakes!”

“I thought you were a goner dude!”

And my personal favorite, uttered by a little old African-American woman with the deepest of Southern accents, “You need ta go ta duh ‘ospital and get yo seff checked up, young man. Aftuh dat, you make sho you call dat nice Sam Bernstein now ya hear?”

Now, let me take an opportunity here to debunk two racial myths often perpetrated by the media in the Detroit area. Not long after the cops arrived, virtually every white person on the scene disappeared to continue on about their business. That left me as the only Caucasian on the side of the road that was not wearing a uniform of some sort. If I were to subscribe to the stereotypes, everyone there would be circling the wagons around the poor black woman who hit me and refusing to answer questions posed to them by the police. Neither scenario could have been further from the reality.

When the police officer asked me what had happened, all I could do was shrug my shoulders and tell him that I didn’t see a thing. When he asked if anyone else had seen anything, everyone started talking at once, giving him very detailed descriptive accounts of what had transpired, all of which exonerated me and seemed to be aimed at demonizing the woman who nailed me. As I listened to the various accounts, my blood started boiling and I limped my way over to the Hyundai to give the woman, who was still inside, a verbal bludgeoning. Once I actually laid eyes upon her however, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I had a hurt back which, since my system was still overloaded with adrenaline, seemed to me to be more of a major discomfort that would diminish over the hours rather than a debilitating injury. The woman who hit me on the other hand had broken both wrists, one of which was a compound fracture where the bone was protruding from the skin. Though unknown at that moment, she had also busted a femur which she would soon discover was among the most painful types of injuries to endure when the paramedics extracted her from her car. Her face was also busted up and swelling, distorting her features into unnatural dimensions. There was little doubt that I had gotten off easy and there was nothing that I could say that was going to make her feel any worse than she already did so I just walked away.

Once the paramedics arrived, they determined that I had definitely did something to my back and needed to go to the hospital. Afraid that I would soon be immobilized, I was able to borrow a cell phone and call my wife. Since her cell phone number was “2” on my mobile’s speed dial, I did not know her cell number so I had to call the house, where an unfamiliar number came up on the caller ID. This became readily apparent by the conversation that ensued.

“Hello?” my wife answered tentatively, as if she were answering a telemarketer’s call.

“Hi, honey. I got into a real bad car accident.”

“Who is this?”

“Jep.”

“Jep who?”

“Your husband Jep!”

“Well, why aren’t you calling from your phone? Who’s Sharonda?”

“Who?”

“Sharonda. The woman who’s phone you’re calling from?”

At that point I was tempted to tell her she was my mistress but thought that could jeopardize my chances of having her pick me up from the hospital later. “I don’t know, some lady I met on the side of the road!”

“Side of the road?!? What are you doing on the side of the road?”

“I had an accident!”

“A what?”

“An ACCIDENT!”

“Oh my God! Are you OK?”

“NO!” Now I was started to get pissed about having to play 50 questions while trying to get a quick call in before the EMTs took me away. “I’m going to the hospital! The car’s totaled!”

“What hospital are you going to?”

“I don’t know.”

“Call me when you find out?”

“I don’t have a phone!”

“Have someone call me on my cell!”

“I don’t have your number.”

“What do you mean you don’t have my number? How can you not have my cell phone number?”

“You’re trying to pick a fight with me now?!?!”

“No, I…”

I pulled out a pen. “The EMTs are coming for me right now. Give me your number.” She did and I wrote it in huge numbers on my forearm as the paramedics motioned for me to put the phone down and follow them. I told her I loved her and hung up.

At this point my back was definitely killing me but the pain was not unbearable. That changed dramatically once I was in the ambulance however. I walked into the bus under my own power, stood there until the EMT cleared me a spot on the bench along the wall and even positioned myself properly on the backboard pretty much by myself. After the paramedic strapped me in however, it was a whole different story. Whatever injury I had along my spine announced itself with a vengeance and I would not be able to move again without excruciating agony for the next eight hours. To make matters worse once I was immobilized, the paramedics left me alone to extract the woman who hit me from her car.

I have never been claustrophobic but being physically restrained in such a confined area coupled with the extreme pain I was in and the uncertainty with what was going to happen to me, I suddenly was flushed with an overwhelming sense of panic. I felt like I was suffocating again and struggled against my restraints to get myself into a position where I could breathe better. Of course, the more I struggled, the less I was able to breathe and unable to move, it was a futile effort to begin with. I knew I had to calm myself down or I would probably kill myself through anxiety alone. I had to put everything out of my mind and look for the silver lining in the whole situation.

The first thing that came to mind was that I was getting a new car. I figured that occupying my mind with what I was going to get and what features I was going to put into it would keep me distracted for a while. I was wrong. No sooner had I realized I was getting a new car then I remembered that I had just mailed the last car payment on my old car three days before. That twisted heap of metal strewn across two lanes of interstate highway was now completely owned by me, free and clear. At that point I started to get pissed and found myself on the verge of hyperventilating.

To get my breathing back under control, I forced myself to think of another silver lining. One would think that at my age I could come up with something better to look forward to than getting my hands on some good drugs but truth be told, I couldn’t and truth be told, it was a thought that actually had a soothing effect on me. I could not think of the last time I was able to spend a week laying on the couch in my underwear while watching cartoons and stuffing my face full of Doritos as I enjoyed being stoned out of my gourd. It is safe to say that I had not been able to pull that off since the mid-1980s anyway.

I did not get to savor the plans I was making for long however as my daydreaming was interrupted by a series of bloodcurdling, tortured screams from the accident’s other victim. The outbursts from her was so sudden and intense that, unable to see what was going on, I was beginning to suspect that the cops might have pulled her from the car and started beating her with their nightsticks for operating a motor vehicle with her head jammed too far up her ass to see out of the windshield. At the time I kind of felt bad because of the pain she was in but that was before I found out she was driving on a suspended license and without insurance. Now I feel bad about it because the paramedics strapped me into the ambulance beforehand and from that vantage point, I couldn’t see what they were doing to her.

Things kind of deteriorated from there. Once the woman who hit me started screaming, she did not stop for the next two hours. I know this because we carpooled to the hospital together and I basically followed her around from x-ray machine to x-ray machine until we were mercifully separated well after dinner time.

(Author’s note: Getting better. I’m off the pain killers now thank God, having discovered that narcotics aren’t nearly as fun when you HAVE to take them. Next installment should put this thing to bed. Have no idea when that might be).

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you're feeling better and that there won't be any lasting effects other than the raging addiction to perscribed medication.
May I suggest that you change the title of part II? I've checked in many times waiting for the conclusion to the story, only to hear Mrs. SactoRitch ask if I've read your new blog. I suggested that it must've just posted because I had recently checked. She said "No, he posted a week ago." Apparently my attention to detail isn't what it once was because I only read as far as Bidding on the farm. I'm probably just an incoherent goon and the only one that didn't catch it, so, nevermind.
Here's to hoping you're well and looking forward to seeing you in October. CALL JEANETTE!!

SactoRitch

7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where are you Jim? Are your fingers busted from your accident? Have the drugs have erased your memory and maybe you've forgotten about all of us?

SactoRitch

8:02 PM  
Blogger JEP said...

Naw, I'm here Ritch. I'm just over-loaded in mortal combat to save my job in this economic train wreck we're in. You're so right too, I've got to call Jeanette.

8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jep, Man oh man! I haven't gotten passed the bidding articles to catch up since the crash. Wow- Maybe a little medicinal beverage for the sole is in order, as well as a large charitable contribution to the religious organization of your choice. Was the wiper system at least functional?

And here I was wondering how things were going for you in our glorious state. I'll give you a call. Is your number still on the bathroom wall of the second stall in the men's room at HaloBurger??

Your Mother Mayhem

2:28 AM  

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