“Grab your bag and grab your coat. Tell the ones that need to know: we are headed north.”
Excited for another adventure with my sister Kathryn, and long-time high school friend Alice, I drove on (the dreaded) I-95N towards Washington.
Traffic was sporadic, but I had been on the road since 9am, coming back from Sandbridge, VA. So I expected nothing less and mentally prepared for backed-up highways and congested toll roads.
We finally passed D.C. and merged over to I-295. We stopped and started, stopped and started as the traffic thickened. Then there was a strange noise…maybe the screeching of tires? Or the sudden slam of breaks? Either way, there was a very strange noise.
And then… an unexpected BAAAAAM.
My foot was on the break, but we were moving. Or maybe, just all of our bodies were moving. Either way, I lurched forward in rhythm with Alice, and then smashed back into my seat. I thought I’d hit the black car in front of me because it was no longer aligned with my car. Luckily, our vehicle had been moved, not theirs. They drove away, and we sat in silence.
From the rearview mirror, I could see Kathryn’s eyes began to tear as she rubbed her head that had slammed into the front seat. Alice and I sat in silence, bewildered by the surreal event. Never having been in an accident before, it felt like a movie as I said “Well. Everyone’s is okay? Okay. Well. Let’s pull over.”
But of course, rolling onto the shoulder of 295 is not a bright idea. I was the only one able to exit the car without getting killed by on-coming traffic. Kathryn asked me to look at the damage, since we were driving her RAV 4.
“Well (I couldn’t stop saying ‘well!’). It’s not great. It’s not horrible. But it’s really not great.”
This generated a small squeal and a flood of tears. Not my intention, but I couldn’t lie. The taillight on the driver’s side was smashed to bits and the side bumper was hanging on by one bolt. But we were fortunate in one way: the big red truck that had hit us obviously tried to swerve at the last second. He hadn’t rammed us straight on, and so only half the car was a mess.
The driver, who we’ll just call Pennsylvania because of his license plate, was extremely sorry. He asked if we could drive to an exit so information could be exchanged.
I looked at him. He didn’t seem to be a liar. But to drive off would be so easy! I just kept starring. Did Pennsylvania have a cell phone? Could I take that? I mean if someone had my cell phone I would certainly follow them anywhere…
“Oh here. I’ll give you my license so I won’t drive off. I’ll just follow you.”
“Oh okay okay. Yes, uh first exit.”
What followed was about an hour of calling parents and collecting contact information. Here are a few things I learned:
*The south of Maryland, or the north of Washington D.C. is rather sketchy and the GPS was often confused, leading us into my unfamiliar areas at night. Not cool Garmin. Not cool.
*Our dear friend Pennsylvania was nice enough to help tape our car so it was drivable.
*You do not have to call the police in D.C. if you do not need an ambulance. By law, all you have to do is exchange information and insurance companies. I found that out the hard way, and I’m pretty sure my mother did not believe me. She kept begging me to call the Maryland police, though I have no control over where 911 takes me (haha thanks for helping though Mom)!
*Duct tape fixes everything. I knew this already – but now I understand this saying in its entirety.
Needless to say, New York City was no longer an option, especially with the impending snow storm. Our vehicle was in no shape to travel much of anywhere, and honestly neither were we. Various necks and backs needed some Advil ASAP, and the only thing I could think about was the coffee I was going to reward myself with once we had crossed over into Maryland. Since that was not happening, stopping at a friend’s house in the D.C. area was a must. Coffee is always a must.
After some extremely hospitable family friends fed us and gave us more tape (oh thank goodness for tape) we proceeded towards I-95S towards Richmond. By 11pm we arrived safely at home, bitter about our disappointing New York non-adventure.
But we DID still have an adventure. And Richmond DOES have some lovely people to spend New Years with.
Alice pointed out that the Avett Brother’s song we had been listening to has another interesting lyric fitting for our trip:
“Are you aware of the shape I’m in? My hand they shake, my head it spins.”
Oh ha ha ha. How very funny Alice ;)
A few pictures from the incident: