Friday, July 23, 2010

And now for something completely different

Today's blog was going to be about thoughtful baby shower gifts. I have been working on the piece for a few days and was going to finish it up Thursday night. The weather had a different plan for me, and so I am going to share the story of how my car was destroyed last night.

This is my Mustang. It is a 2001 convertible with the upgraded stereo system and fabulous white racing stripe. I have owned it since 2003, and it was my first car. I have often declared that the happiest day of the year is the first day of the year that I can drive the Mustang with the top down. It is exactly the car I had always wanted, and I've always said that once I had finally driven the car into the ground, I'd get another one just like it.  I have so many memories with this car - Summerfest, the Dells, the fireworks, so many good memories.  I truly love this car.

All day Thursday I was looking forward to getting home so that we could pack the Jeep and get ready to leave at dawn for our big camping trip.   We were supposed to have some heavy rain, but for the most part it held off all day.  Until it was time to head home.  Then the sky opened up.  I made a mad dash for my car and was soaked by the time I sat down.  The radio traffic update advised me to avoid the I-43 freeway as the rains had brought the traffic to a halt.  I decided to travel west on Good Hope Road with the plan of meeting the 45 freeway to finish my journey home.  The water was getting deep in parts of Good Hope but I sallied forth until the 76th Street intersection, cheering on my little "Duckstang" as it navigated the streets with little problem.  But at the 76th Street intersection cars were making U-turns in the middle of the street because the intersection was impassable.  I too turned around and tried to take surface streets south in search of higher ground.  The rain was coming down so hard that I couldn't tell what was road and what wasn't.  I turned from side street to side street trying to avoid the deep water, although it was getting harder because I couldn't see much of anything through the gray sheets of rain coming down.  I was afraid to stop because as cars came through the deep water it was clear that their control was questionable and I didn't want to get hit by a car being swept through the water. 

Ultimately, I ended up on 60th Street with quite a few other cars, which made me nervous because no one had sufficient control in those conditions.  I saw the road ahead dip and I knew the water was deep but I couldn't slow down for fear of getting rear-ended.  My only hope was to try to plunge forward but as I did I saw more and more cars stuck in the intersection, water-logged.

I didn't panic until I felt my feet get wet.  It took a moment for the sensation to make sense in my head:  my feet were getting wet because the water was coming up through my floorboards.  My car was being soaked.  I turned on my hazards - I was in trouble.  Soon my feet were covered, and I tried to stop, to save my car, but I couldn't - the water swept me forward.  The water rose and I saw the passenger side floormat rising.  The water came up to the seat and I knew my car was gone.

My car was gone.  I could swear that time stopped as the realization set in.  My car was gone.

A second later and the water was covering the car seat, then up to my waist.  I looked into the backseat and saw my briefcase with my court files for Monday floating, soaked.  I had to get out of the car before I couldn't.  I pushed on the door and it wouldn't budge.  The water was holding the door shut.  A thousand horror movie-fueled nightmares played out in my head and I pushed with everything I had and it opened and more water poured into my car.  I got out into waist-deep murky, dirty water and slogged myself to the side of the road and climbed a hill.  I don't know how but I had my car keys in one hand and my blessedly dry cell phone in the other.  I called my husband and I called my mom, panicked and sorrowful.  Terrified.  I didn't want to even look at my car, but I didn't want to leave it either.  I was soaking wet with filthy water as I walked up the hill to a church where lovely people were handing out towels.  I wasn't alone - there were waterlogged cars everywhere, some abandoned, others not. 

I called my insurance company and watched as city buses plowed through the water, creating wakes that buried my car and others.  I watched as other drivers thought they could make it through the water, some did and some failed.  I had to ask the nice Geico lady to repeat herself when she said "total loss."  I had to ask her what that meant, and then what I already knew became real. 

Total loss.

Remembering my poor floating briefcase, I knew I had to return to the car.  I also wanted to turn out the hazard lights so...why?  I don't actually know.  I didn't want the battery to wear down, but why did that matter?  I plunged back into the cold, dirty water and waded to my car.  I wasn't able to close the door completely when I left so getting in wasn't hard.  I retrieved my soaked briefcase and a coat.  I managed to drop my keys and had to search the dark water to find them again.  I waded back to shore and waited for my rescue.

I can't stop thinking about my car, but I'm not really upset.  No, I'm not, actually.  I loved this car, and now I no longer have it.  It is a statement of fact, and not something I feel upset or emotional about, and I don't know why.  I feel like I should be upset, angry, sad.  I'm not. 

Do you know what does upset me?  This single thought:  what if Jack had been in his carseat, in the back seat?  Would I have been able to get him out?  Would I have been able to navigate that tricky belt buckle through murky water, in the small, hard to reach backseat?  Sweet little blue eyes looking up at me, panicked and afraid, not understanding why cold water was coming into his carseat.  I can't shake that thought.

The fact is that Jack and his carseat have never been in the Mustang because the backseat is so small and it never seemed safe to me, but that doesn't stop that thought from haunting me.  I could play a game of a million "what-ifs" with respect to the car - what if I had stayed on Good Hope Road instead of turning off?  What if I left ten minutes earlier?  Or later?  But the only what-if that concerns me at all is what if Jack had been with me.  Everything could have changed in the blink of an eye.

My family is safe.  My home is safe.  Thank you, God.

There are more cars.



SassyCassie said...

Holy crackers, that is a scary thought. ::shudders::

Kayla said...

That's what I was thinking, what if Jack had been in there.

Sarge, the White Devil said...

Upside is you got out of the car OK.

Also worthy of note, Mustangs float in poop soup, but you would not have gotten rid of the smell. I'm sorry for your loss.

As for the car seat: Carry a seat belt cutter, tie it to the seat out of baby's reach but in plain view of you - those buckles were designed by idiots not considering ease of operation under stress.

Seatbelt cutter, quick slice, you and baby bail out!

Think of it as an immediate action drill - car gets stuck/broke/swamped/surrounded by zombies or Jehova's Witnesses. What to do? Grab essentials and/or baby, and bail out.

Prepared just means plan ahead, take charge, take action.

Moms do it for their kids, we menfolk tend to do it for their families, or everyone, as need dictates.

Jenn said...

Dan was online last night ordering me a seatbelt cutter to ease my mind, but I was too tired to make much sense of what he was showing me. I totally agree - even though I'l almost certainly never have need for one, I'll feel much better having a seatbelt cutter.
My scariest fears all involve being trapped in a car and unable to get out. If a little $15 tool can help me get over that, fantastic.

sulfababy said...

That's insane and scary! I'm glad you are okay. Sorry about the car.

Abi (aka Liloirl) said...

I didnt realize until today that you were IN the car when it flooded. Scary stuff! Glad life can continue forward with you AND Jack okay. Seatbelt cutters are awesome tools. Ive used one once. Should probably get another one.