Friday, January 03, 2014

Skidding into the new year

Most people in this world started the new year making resolutions they will not keep, or traveling to exotic locales and showing off. Some did both.

For me, it was a day of miracles. I was traveling for the holidays, and was on my way back. The flight was delayed by a couple of hours, and by the time I landed at night, I saw that everything below was white. I checked the temperature to be minus 15 Celsius. This was going to be interesting.

While driving back home from the airport (60 miles away), my car skid on the ice, and spun out of control, not once, but twice. The first time was when I had just stepped out of the airport parking. I tried swerving to the left, but it swerved fully, and came to stop facing oncoming traffic. I was really surprised, as this was the first time it had happened. Quickly, I reversed the car on the shoulder and started driving. I could barely see the lanes, not just because it was dark, but because snow covered half the lanes. It was hard to tell if I was overstepping the lanes. I decided to drive slower.

The second time turned out to be almost fatal. I entered the freeway, and realizing that the speed was 60 mph and I wanted to go slower, I shifted to the rightmost lane. They had mostly cleared the snow, but not completely on the rightmost lane. During the day, snow melts, but at night, due to extreme temperatures, the cold water melts back to ice (ice offers less friction than snow). The moment I entered the rightmost lane, I felt my car spinning out of control. I made the mistake of braking, more instinctively than anything else. The car spun 360 degree a couple of times, barely missing a pole before stopping to face the oncoming traffic. It was like reliving an action movie in reality. A head on collision was inevitable.

Yet, both me, and my car had a miraculous escape, unscathed. Traffic was less, and the few cars coming in my direction quickly shifted lanes and zoomed past me. Thankfully, I was quick to gather my senses, move from the highway, and take the next exit. I was shattered. I had considerably slowed down and taken the exit, but the inner roads were worse. They had not really cleared the snow from the inner roads, and every time I tried taking a turn, my car skid. Finally, I found a parking lot, parked my car, and inspected the damage. The mudguard was caked with a thick layer of black colored snow (probably a mixture of snow and dirt). It was freezing and I could feel hypothermia setting in. I locked inside my car and howled for quite some time. I did not have the strength to drive back.

It is no use to think what could have happened when nothing happened. The skidding must have been for less than a minute, but it was the longest minute of my life. Sadly, after all this, I had to muster the courage to drive for 50 miles to get home. Emotionally, I was shattered. 

Today, I skipped work to skip driving, but tomorrow, and everyday after that, I have to drive. I do not drive rashly, do not drink and drive, do not text and drive, and do not even take phone calls while driving. I have driven for 4.5 years and more than 50k miles now, going all over the country, in busy cities and mountains. I was not even speeding yesterday. In fact, I was slower than the speed limit.

Driving is an enjoyable activity for me because I know how to confidently control and maneuver a heavy body moving at a great speed. Yet yesterday, I experienced firsthand what skidding and getting out of control feels like. Snow that has frozen into ice is dangerous, and trying to brake, even instinctively, caused my nemesis. This is the first time I have been in an accident. The rest of the 50 miles, I drove at 55 in a 75 mph zone, with my emergency lights on. It was a nightmare for me.

It's not an experience anyone should have to face, but now that I have done it, I am thankful to be alive and to be writing coherently, using correct English. Coming this close to a fatal accident and escaping unscathed makes you believe in miracles. Surely it was an interesting, although unexpected start to the new year. But like my friend says, now that you are done with it, there will not be any accidents for the next fifteen years.



Ritu Raj said...

Thank God that you just slid and not slammed into something.

Happy New Year!!

Suds said...

That sounds pretty scary. :(

Richa Chauhan said...

I too have survived many accidents
and every time I thanked GOD for it could have been worst than what really happened!

I love your writings.. glad that you are safe :)
Hope the miracles keep the 'Sunshine'!

sunshine said...

Thanks, everyone. I was mentally shattered, still am. I am getting a taste of the real mid-west winter.

Seema Chauhan said...

Thanks god for It never occurred to me and I hope, you must have many exp about this so take care further and wish to best for sunshine!!!

Uma said...

The narrative sounds like it happened in front of me. Well written as always :)