Three accidents; close succession.
At the time I was twenty-three and driving a 1990 Ford F-250 pickup truck–jacked up, with over-sized tires. People referred to it as The War Machine. I used it primarily to haul stone back and forth from the quarry to job-sites. I was working for myself as a stone mason, building waterfalls into swimming pools.
All three incidents involved me, behind the wheel, slamming into people. Rear-end. The bed of the truck full of stone. New Jersey. February-August 2004.
1.) The first time it happened, I was concerned about the driver. I smacked into a white mini van at a traffic light on a two lane road in a small town.
Instantly I hopped out of the truck. There wasn’t much damage to the minivan but I’d given it quite a volt.
I slipped on the black ice. At the drivers window, I said, “Are you alright?”
The woman rolled down her window and threw an extra large Styrofoam cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee at me. It hit me square in the chest and exploded. She rolled up her window, took her cellphone out, called the police.
The cops came, talked to me at my window. They were nice enough. The cop asked me why I was all wet. I said, “Coffee.” It surprised them when an ambulance pulled up. The woman got inside the ambulance without talking to the cops. The cops thought this was vey rude of her.
Whiplash: her insurance company told me.
2.) The second collision occurred on a street leading up to a drawbridge. Boom! The back of a Lincoln Continental caved in. Rocks from the bed of my truck sprayed down. A cloud of dirt thick in the air.
Remembering the coffee cup incident, I stayed in my truck.
An old man got out, scratched his baked potato-shaped head. Blue polyester pants. Velcro shoes. He was hunched over, studying the back of his car. It looked bad. Crinkled. Creased. Folded oddly.
I waved sickly. He waved back, said: “Forget about it. S’nothing.”
Then he got back in his Lincoln and we sat there for ten more minutes waiting for the drawbridge. People in line with us got out and stretched– came over and looked at the damage for themselves. The bumper of the Lincoln hung on by a thread, swaying in the breeze.
3.) Now I was a car crash pro. A real seasoned vet. I was driving in heavy rain, downhill–not a care in the world. I applied the brake, slid down towards a maroon Pontiac LeSabre.
The impact pushed the Pontiac into the interaction. Shovels and wheelbarrows flew out of the bed of my Ford.
We pulled off into a nearby parking lot.
She was an older lady. Irish. Mid fifties, salt and pepper curls. She wanted to handle things ourselves. No insurance. She took down my license plate and passed me a slip of paper with her home address. I was supposed to swing by and drop off a check, “Wednesday night. 7pm–sharp.”
I arrived at her house. Surprised to see the driveway loaded up with vehicles. She opened the door, revealing large family dinner. Neices. Nephews. Uncle Paul. Cousin Dottie. Crowded house. Corned beef. Cabbage. Potatoes. Very many faces all staring at me expectantly.
“Have a seat! Join us for dinner!”
I gave her the check and I left.
I got rid of that truck following the third collision. It’d begun to shake violently. The shaking happened every time I hit a slight bump. The front end would jump around horribly.
The last time this horrible vibrating shaking doom happened, I was getting road-head from my girl at the time. I hit a pothole … she started screaming, I was yelling … I was slightly injured, and so was she. The truck was a killer.
After that. I never wanted to see that truck ever again. I sold it cheap. I haven’t crashed into anybody since.
But … I don’t wanna speak too soon.