Just about an hour ago I was on my way back to my office after grabbing some sushi for dinner. At a traffic light about 1 mile away from the office I was rear-ended. Literally out of nowhere, just rear ended at a red light. I was startled and admittedly shaken, not from the gravity of the impact but just the unexpectedness of it. I got out of the car and the driver didn’t want to roll down her window. So, I went to the back of her car and took a picture of her plates for safe measure. She had temporary plates and her car was new.
Her car was still on mine so I couldn’t tell how much damage had been done, but eventually she agreed to pull over to the adjacent lot so that we could take a look at our respective vehicles. My bumper was slightly scraped and dented but nothing to write home about. Her new Buick was in mint condition.
She started making excuses about the bumps and scratches on my car and how they couldn’t have been caused by her car. I kept quiet; I think it was a mixture of confusion and not caring enough to want to file a report...I had to get back to the office, after all.
She asked if I was going to sue her and I told her I wouldn’t. She finally took a breath. She took a step back to leave and then reached out for a hug. We hugged for what felt like a minute. When we finally pulled away she told me that her husband had just passed away a few months ago and that her Cadillac was stolen about a week ago.
I tried not to tear up because this eyeliner has been making my eyes burn lately, plus I don’t want to walk around looking like Ricky Racoon with smudged eyeliner. I couldn’t help it though, I’m a softy.
I told her that everything was going to be okay and we hugged again, this time for about three minutes. When we let go this time she noticed I still had my Massachusetts plates and we talked about my move from Boston. We talked about how she’s been trying to work through the hardships she had to face over the course of the last six months, and how she’s trying to refocus after everything that’s transpired. She said that this accident felt like a wake-up call, and that she's glad it happened because ultimately she just needed a hug.
At this point I know some of you are probably thinking...still, how the hell does someone run into you after being stopped at a red light? Before she hit me her foot was on the brakes, but she got distracted: her lipstick had fallen, and she bent down to pick up and then...BAM.
I think the accident was a bit of a metaphor for life...our bodies go where our minds go, and sometimes that’s adrift. When we’re not focused sometimes we need just the right level of impact to get us back on track. Not enough to break us, just enough to shake us and let us know that we're still here. Still fighting. Still going. Still worthy. Still enough. Still capable of impact.