Friday, July 4, 2014

The Importance of Routine Advice

It was something I say every day.  But on this day, it turned out to have special meaning.  And somehow, I knew in advance that it would.

A few days ago my wife and I experienced something that was damned interesting—and it had a very fortunate outcome.  I can’t say for sure whether the incident and then a minor one associated with it later count as premonitions or anything like that.  But nor can I say they don’t.  So I’m placing this blog entry into my “Weird Coincidences and Strange Happenings” series.

It unfolded like this.  My wife Deborah (a.k.a. “Bride of the Bloviator” or BOTB) had decided to go in to the office and do some work on a Saturday.  As she headed out the door, I told her, as I always do, to “drive carefully.”

The moment I said it, I stopped to reflect on the fact that I always give her this advice.  Now I asked myself, “I wonder whether it makes any difference at all?”  The answer came back, “Probably not.”  But still, it can’t hurt, I told myself.  A feeling then washed over me that sometime soon, perhaps this very day, that routine advice would become very relevant indeed.

Now, I kid BOTB all the time about her driving.  She’s always in a hurry to get somewhere, and the lead content of her foot rises in direct proportion to the perceived urgency.  Police have pulled her over a time or two.  When we lived in Texas, we used joke that traffic cops kept a still watch on our driveway, and had issued permanent APB for a cute redhead driving a sky blue Chrysler Laser.  About three years after we moved out of Texas, we had occasion to drive across it.  I looked up to see blue and red lights fast approaching from behind.  BOTB gave me a smug look that said, “Time for Mr. Holier Than Thou to get a ticket.”  Nope.  Turns out, moments earlier BOTB had momentarily unbuckled her seatbelt to reach for her purse and had not yet returned the purse and buckled herself back in.  They stop you for that in Texas.  She got the ticket.  Apparently the APB was still in effect.

I kid her about this stuff, but I do worry about it.  There are a lot of crazy drivers out there.  Arriving home alive requires more than just obeying traffic laws.  It requires a high sense of alertness for others who don’t have that same philosophy.

All of those thoughts crowded through my mind as I watched her leave that morning. 

When she arrived home a few hours later, she was as pale as a sheet.  “I almost just got killed,” she told me breathlessly.

What had taken place was this:  On the way home, she was sitting at a red light when she happened to glance into her rear view mirror.  A black car had just come over the slight rise behind her and was roaring in her direction at a very high rate of speed.  It was obvious to her that it wasn’t going to stop.  In front of Deborah was another car; to her immediate left was a turn lane.  It was empty, and the left turn arrow was still green.  She gunned the car and dove for the lane.  Meanwhile, just behind her, the kamikaze driver of the black car realized what he was about to do and slammed on his brakes, which immediately sent his vehicle into a spin.  As Deborah continued her turn, the man’s car flashed through the intersection just inches away from her, still swapping ends as the driver fought to get control.  Deborah made it safely out of the way, but a motorist further ahead in the right lane didn’t.  The speeding driver smacked into the back of that person’s vehicle.  Fortunately, the out-of-control car’s speed had been greatly reduced by the time of the impact.

Deborah pulled into a bank parking lot on the right.  The drivers of both accident vehicles got out; clearly no one was hurt.  When police arrived a few minutes later, she joined other motorists who’d stopped to tell what they’d witnessed.  The teenager behind the wheel of the speeding car explained nonchalantly that he “hadn’t seen the light.”  I’d venture to say those words were true both literally and figuratively.  The officer wrote the irresponsible idiot a ticket but did not administer a field sobriety test. 

I was pretty amazed when I heard this story.  I recalled having told her that morning to drive carefully, and remembered that I’d felt the warning might be particularly significant today.  I’m guessing she'd had maybe two seconds to react when she spotted the black car speeding for her.  Clearly she’d been alert and paying attention.  I’m a pretty safe driver, but I’m not sure I would have been that alert.  She’d also been damned lucky.

I told her we’d discuss it more at dinner, and then I went and made reservations.  For no particular reason I chose a restaurant at which we used to dine fairly frequently back when we lived in that neighborhood, but that we had not visited in months.  On the drive there, I got her to tell me more about what had happened.  I was trying to visualize what intersection she was talking about.

As she filled in the details of the incident, it hit me.  The intersection where all this had taken place was now just ahead.  Completely by chance, I had happened to pick for our evening meal a restaurant at the corner of the very intersection in question.  It shared a parking lot with the bank where she’d parked her car just after having made her miraculous escape.

Coincidence?  And did it mean anything at all that I'd felt in advance that my "drive carefully"advice might have particular significance this one time?  Was that feeling of foreboding just a coincidence, too?  Maybe the seemingly random events that had brought us both to that particular location on that particular day were somehow connected.  Maybe they weren't.  

It's unthinkable what could have happened at this spot.  But what did happen is that we had a nice dinner, and used the time to reflect on how strange, wonderful, and precious is human life, and how lucky we are to be together.


You can find other musings on this subject on this page, and I'll be adding to it in the weeks ahead.
I also invite you to check out my science fiction novel, A Journal of the Crazy Year.   You can check that out, see purchase links and download a free sample chapter at this link.

©2014 by Forrest Carr.  All rights reserved.

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