In a shaky voice, “Mom, I’ve been in an accident.”
It’s that moment your heart stops. Frankly, the moment when your world stops.
My daughter has only had her license for about 8 months, even though she is 18. She is a novice at this game. And the other day as she was driving back to school with two of her classmates in the vehicle, she had her first accident – she broke traction on a snowy road, swerved for over 200 yards, spun out, and went head on into a snowbank on the side of the road.
I was in one state, she was in another, and my husband was out West. Shit.
Choking back tears, my first question, barely gotten out, “Are you OK?!”
Daughter: “Yes. We’re all fine. I’ve called AAA, and a tow truck is on the way. They said it was going to be an hour or more. I called the State Police non-emergency and no one answered.” (How utterly charming this note is, right?).
Me: “Are you sure you’re all OK?” Daughter: “Yes, I just don’t know if I’m comfortable with us being alone on the side of the road.” Me: [deep cleansing breath of relief]. Gosh, I have such a smart kid who’s done everything correctly in an emergency situation.
Me: “Make sure your hazard lights are on. Call 911. Tell them you’ve called the State non-emergency number but no answer, you’ve had an accident, everyone is fine, but you’re a new driver and you’d appreciate assistance.”
Done. State Police on way. Tow truck arrives much sooner than expected. Car pulled out and drivable. Tow driver extremely helpful; calls 911 to report all is fine. Child gets back on road and heads to school safely.
And those are the facts.
Here’s the bits I didn’t tell you, and a real dose of reality:
When she pulled out of the driveway at home, it was barely spitting snow. A storm had come through the previous day, but the plows had cleared all roads, including our back road. I told her before she left, “Head straight to school. You can stop and grab a sandwich at the market by the school if you’re hungry. I don’t know if this snow is moving north or what, or if it’s going to pick up.” Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Head straight to school. Call me immediately when you arrive at school.
I go to my kickboxing class, and come out to see a text message on my phone saying they stopped for dinner. So, my next thought is, OK, what little snow was coming down at our house when she left was just a passing shower. Neither of us had bothered to look at the forecast at her school because it is rarely much different than our home. I had no idea it had been dumping snow up in VT all day, especially at her school, and she was driving into unplowed roads and a massive snowstorm.
When I get her call, after she tells me they’re all fine, she proceeds to tell me how shitty the roads are, and that she was driving “pretty slow” at 45 mph (around 72 kmh). Parental sanity leaks away, and I shriek, “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME??” I screamed into the phone about 45 mph being way too fast on poor roads, proceeded to screech like a banshee about how stupid it was for her to have stopped for a leisurely dinner, and then belched out, “What does the car look like?!” It’s a brand new car, for cryin’ our loud. “It looks, fine, Mom.” With a clear eye roll in my voice, I respond, “I’m gonna guess your version and my version of fine are two different versions.”
“MOOOOMMM! STOP!” I knew that was coming.
I envision her car on the side of the road to look like this, based on her description of how she hit the snowbank:
And before you get all judgy, like the good mother that I am, I made sure she and her friends were OK before I started losing my ever loving shit. Look, my point is this, once you procure the necessary no pain, no blood, no ambulance needed, all is well on the human end, it becomes a veritable barrage of shitshow questions to alleviate the horror of getting that heart stopping phone call. Pass all the judgment you want. If you haven’t gotten this phone call, you can’t say BOO to me. If you have gotten this phone call, I’m guessing a similar conversation ensued. If you held your cards better, then we agree you’re a better human being and parent than I am.
There is very minor damage to the car, but most importantly, all the humans inside are safe and well, albeit my daughter may now better understand the power of driving slowly in bad weather.
Trust me when I tell you I threw a serious THANK YOU to Man above that night.