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Friday, June 13, 2008

My Brush with Death; The Big Crash

So I had just bought my new car here in New Zealand. I'd been driving it around for maybe a week. Was getting the hang of the left side of the road, when just the other night, I was on my way to a small group here in Tauranga, cruising down these neighborhoods, when I missed my turn. So I found a place to turn around down the road. And just as I pulled out into traffic, my mind was far away from the proper procedure of driving in this country and more into the irritation of not seeing the roadsign that I had missed. (It is common here for them to place their roadsigns across the street that you would be turning onto)...when I did the brainless and altogether perilous thing of driving on the right side of the road. I had not gone but a few yards in this death-provoking manner, when I noticed the oncoming traffic coming straight at me in the form of a white jeep looking vehicle not slowing down, only the beams from their lights seeming to mimic the panic that the people in that jeep were going through.
Well, fortunately I have fairly fast reflexes, that, and a God who's constantly looking after me, that I jerked my wheel to the left just in the nick of time, missing a devastating catastraphe by seconds. Naturally, I felt very stupid and embarassed about the entire thing, but no chills. At times, I am so constituted that the wind from those close sweeps of Death's scythe, leaves me calmer than I am if I lose a game of monopoly or chess. (Perhaps,I should have been a soldier.)
But not so, with the driver of that vehicle of whom our grills almost kissed in painful fashion. No, he cut around fast and furious determined to hunt me down.

"Oh goodness gracious," I thought, "he's probably getting my tags and phoning the police." That, or really wanting a violent confrontation about my absent-minded driving skills. The car was full of people. Young people. I could see two guys in the front seats. I sped up a little, they sped up a little. Then they started riding my bumper. One of my pet peeves is when some blockhead tailgates me. My response, a few pats on the brakes. Of course, this only just ticks the already angry person off more. And certainly him riding my bumper irritates me more. And then the whole thing turned into this massive car chase. It wasn't necessarily that I was afraid of them, oh no, even if they were half a rugby team packed in that car,..all tatooed Maoris. No, it was more out of pride that one races to get away. "I'm not letting these ass clowns get the benefit of getting me to stop. I will outrun them." Such is a fool's thoughts; they were mine in hotblood for that moment.

So we go flying down these mostly empty neighborhood roads...New Zealand suburbia. On a cold Wednesday night. At one moment, wishing to get behind them, I pulled over into the right lane and slammed on the breaks, believing that they were going at such a speed to shoot right by me. But they slammed on the breaks shortly after me and for a few splitseconds our cars were parallel to each other. I glanced over into the window next to mine, and this guy with spiked hair was spazzing out, his eyeballs almost popping out of his head. And he yelled, convulsing his mouth cartoon-like in fomenting rage. No use, there...so I took off again. I kept thinking, "The price of petrol is so expensive...you think soon they'd realize the waste of gas and time in chasing me. But I am wasting them also." But undaunted, I pressed the pedal down in determination to loose these morons. All the while, saying to myself "left, Brian, left...you got to keep on the left. If I instinctively drift over to the right, then i certainly won't escape a collision." And every turn and wind that I made they followed in close pursuit.

I finally got to a road and was just going to start building up speed to lose them. I was rushing down the avenue, fall leaves dancing dizzily behind me in my wake, when right in front of me I noticed a sight that you don't want to see when racing anywhere. I noticed just as i entered it...a cul de sac. Right in front of me gleamed the reflectors off a wooden barricade that designated the end of the road. I slammed on the brakes but much too late...CRACK!! went my car against the wooden barricade. Splitters of wood flying across the sky. Instinctively, I wrestled my steering wheel to the right, while using all the adrenaline that was in me to shoot down into my right leg and stomp on those brakes. The car careened to the right. I had almost stopped it before I went smack into a little tree. I hopped out of my car without a scratch on me, and noticed the cliff that lay only a few feet away from where my car lay. The cliff was about a 40 feet slant into a lake. With nothing more but a flimsy wooden sign between my car and the cliff to warn people that there is a dangerous cliff there. This entire scene was in darkness. Had it been a house or a building at the end of the cul de sac, I would've seen that the street came to an end much sooner. But it was nothing but the distant few of a lake and a darkened sky that was the backdrop, and caused me to believe that the road wind on forever. The right front wheel of my Subaru had been jerked out of its axle. It looked like it had been twisted around as it had tried desparately to claw into the ground to keep me from going over that cliff. The front of the car was smashed solid with that tree. The lip of the hood busted in a unbecoming fashion.

It goes without saying, I was very, very lucky. I now live. I am fairly convinced that God was most certainly involved here. This calmness fell upon me, very unnaturally. I drifted out a serene gratitude to God. And I see the complete folly of my indulging in this insane chase. I apologize to God and again thank Him. Amazed at life and death. And God's hand over me.

The neighbor from next door comes over and very amiably, asks me if I am alright. I say "yep." And I tell him the story. He tells me that he has already called the police. At which I nod in gratitude. Just down the street, my pursuers, whom I thought would have retreated once they had seen my crash got out of their jeep and started to walk towards us. The nice neighbor, a big guy, says that he'll stay here with me if they try to start anything.
I yell across the cul de sac as they approach, "What were you doing riding my bumper like that?" The fellow with the spiked hair is still fuming, "I want you to know that I have called the police on you!!! You...almost killed us back there! You...YOU ARE SUCH AN IDIOT!" For some reason, this immense amount of peace settled inside of me. I cannot really describe it. I think ordinarily I would've wanted to punch this guy in the mouth. But I felt no anger, no fear, no panic of any sort. Just this immeasurable amount of calmness. The guy continued his rant while his buddy just stood there. "Do you know how close we were to colliding back there? We could've been killed!" (I found it interesting that he took little note of the death that i almost had over that cliff.) I said, smiling, "Yes, but we're not! You're alive...I'm alive! Neither one of us is hurt. I'm the one that should be angry....my car is wrecked." He shrieked back at me, "I don't give a damn about your f*** car!!" You are just a complete dickhead!" The guy called me a dickhead. But I remained calm. Still reveling in the fact that God had to be watching over me.

The police came and they were nice and understanding. One of them listened to my story, the other listened to the jerks' story. This guy, ironically, was driving a company jeep that belonged to a local newspaper. He probably was some type of deliverer. The funny thing,is that day, I had used my car to deliver newspapers for another newspaper company.

The policeman told me that it would cost a few thousand to repair my car, seeing how I wasn't insured the car wasn't worth the amount to fix it, I think that I am just going to sell it to a scrap yard for parts. So there goes $1600 up in smoke. A car that I just bought the week before. Right now, I am trying to fight off moods of despondency and anger because this has happened. My bank account is getting low. I am actually deciding whether or not to come back home and try to get my old job back. But at this point, I really don't know. I am constantly trying to remind myself how fortunate I am that I am still alive, and completely unscathed on top of that.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tough, man. Very sorry to hear it. I realize I'm not in your shoes, but it's got to be worth sticking it out at least a bit longer.
JKE of 603 N. Locust

12:54 PM  
Anonymous the author said...

True...true...I think that's what I've decided to do.

7:30 PM  

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