Early Thursday morning I drove to Pasadena to get a bone scan. No big deal. I like early morning appointments because there are fewer cars on the road. After the scan, I headed for my favorite coffee shop on Colorado Blvd in Eagle Rock. Two blocks from the shop I saw a gray Mini Cooper waiting in the median to turn left into my lane. I didn’t think much of it since it appeared to be stopped, and I kept going.
Just when I thought I was passed the Mini Cooper, I felt a powerful jolt to the left side of my car and heard the chilling sound of metal crunching metal. The impact sent me flying onto the median that separated the two sides of the boulevard. I pushed the brakes as hard as I could, but the car, as if possessed, sped up. I turned the wheel to the right, but it didn’t listen.
As I flew down the median, I heard loud bumps and bangs. What was I hitting? Then I saw a tree in my path. I was sure I was going to crash into it and stop, but instead, my car plowed over it, snapping the trunk, making a hideous, loud crack, and I kept going. Angry grinding sounds came from my car as it drove itself into oncoming traffic on the wrong side of the road. I tried to pull the steering wheel to the right to get out of harm’s way, but it didn’t help. Then the engine stopped. I floored the gas, hoping to get out of the path of oncoming traffic, but the car wouldn’t budge. Everything went silent.
The airbags hadn’t opened yet so I quickly opened the door and got out. I didn’t want them punching me in the face. My heart pounded hard in my chest and I didn’t know what to do once I was standing in the street. My head spun and I must have wandered into the path of an approaching car, because I heard honking and the screech of tires. Before anyone ran me over, a dark-haired woman appeared out of nowhere and guided me onto the median. She asked if I was okay. I started crying. I wasn’t okay. I was in shock.
The Mini Cooper pulled up in front of my car with a very concerned woman behind the wheel. She got out and ran to me, asking if I was okay. She asked if I could move my car out of traffic. I told her the engine was dead. That was when I saw how badly damaged the driver’s side of my car was. I also saw that the tires were flat and partially torn from their rims.
Mini Cooper lady asked if I needed to go to the hospital. If that would stop the hammering of my heart, then maybe I did. I dug in my backpack for my cell phone to call 911, but my hands shook too much to dial. Mini Cooper lady gently took my phone, called 911 and told the operator we’d had “a fender bender,” then handed the phone back to me. The operator asked if I was hurt and I said I didn’t think so, I was just shaken up. She said she’d send an officer as soon as possible. Mini Cooper lady asked again if I was okay. I told her I was confused and scared and didn’t know what to do. She very calmly assured me that I was going to be fine. Then she asked if we could exchange information. As I looked for my wallet she called her insurance company to report the accident.
The dark-haired woman could see I was trembling so she put her hand on my shoulder and said everything was going to be okay. I thanked her. Who was this kind person? She had appeared like an angel to help. I opened my backpack to get my wallet, but it wasn’t there. I looked on the car seat, but it wasn’t there. Where was it? I had just used it to pay the parking fee for my bone scan, so it had to be in my car. But it wasn’t. Had it flown out the window during my bumpy ride? I panicked and ran to the trunk, then back to the driver’s seat. Where was it? The dark-haired angel said to not worry, we’d find it. The world was turning black and I couldn’t see a way out. Then she said, “Here it is. It was on the passenger seat.” I was so grateful, I hugged her.
I wanted to call my husband to come help. He’d still be home. I managed to find his name is my phone contacts and tapped it. He picked up right away and I started crying again. “I’ve been in an accident. Can you help me?” He said he’d be right there.
The dark-haired angel and Mini Cooper lady each took one of my arms and led me to the coffee shop on the corner to sit at one of the outdoor tables. They asked if I was cold, or if I needed something to drink. “No thank you,” I said. We sat and waited for the police to come.
When my husband Don arrived, I felt relieved. He would help me through this. A smiling police officer came and said he’d call AAA for me, then asked me questions and filled out a report. The AAA man came and cranked my battered car onto his flatbed truck. Before he left, he said, “I think your car is totaled,” then kindly removed all my personal items from the trunk and glove compartment. Everything started to feel like a dream. My heart beat slowed and I felt like I was wrapped in a blanket. Every single person I’d encountered since my hellish car ride had been so kind and helpful.
Don helped me put my belongings into his car and we went home. As I unwound, I realized how lucky I was. My car could have flipped over after being hit. Had the tree in the median been any bigger I could have come to an abrupt, head-crushing stop. My out-of-control car could have plowed into another vehicle, or mowed over a pedestrian, in which case I would have had to kill myself to avoid a life of guilt. I could have collided head-on with a vehicle in oncoming traffic, but no one was there. I could have been struck down as I wandered into traffic in my addled state, but the dark-haired angel appeared to guide me to safety. It could have been so much worse, but I was alive. I was okay. Somebody up there was looking out for me.