In my life, I have experienced a few traffic accidents, none serious, thank God.
One of the things that impresses you when you are in or close to a ton of steel, plastic and aluminum that suddenly runs into something with the force of hundreds of horses is how amazingly loud that thudding, crunching, breaking glass sound is—highlighted by a dull, visceral THUD.
I was grading student work Monday night on my home computer when I heard that rarely heard but familiar THUD-crunch-tinkle.
My wife and I—she was on a laptop computer in the bedroom enjoying similar “I’m a professor at the end of a semester” fun—quickly went outside.
A neighbor had parked her car by the city’s ash tree in front of our house. Now, the car was 10 feet away from its original postilion, up in the parking (that strip of grass between sidewalk and street) nestled against our drunkenly leaning mailbox.
Luckily, the two young men in the car were not hurt, and very luckily had not hurt anybody else. The front end of their car was crunched rather impressively, and its airbags had deployed. Their relatively OK health condition was a good argument for federal safety regulations.
They thought that they had struck our car, and apologized. We told them it was the neighbor’s, and they went over to apologize there. A man from down the street showed up, and both he and I called the Cedar Rapids Police.
There ensued a slightly awkward 16-minute interlude, during which the neighbor had to process the sorry state of her car, the driver presented a variety of cards, none of them an insurance card, to the neighbor, and we waited. When the police cruiser pulled up, the accident must have been a bit impressive, because a fire truck and ambulance quickly joined the party.
I imagine this will end up being a costly ordeal for that driver. Besides the very real legal entanglements he probably faces, there was substantial damage to two cars.
In the end, the car’s driver ended up being taken away in a police cruiser before his car got towed away. His passenger walked off. Later, a second two truck carted away the neighbor’s car.
It is a bit scary to think that it would have been easy for the neighbor to be in her car, or to be exiting her car, when the driver rounded the corner and plowed into it. And it’s not at all unusual for us to park a car on the street in front of our house.
As it turned out, on Tuesday the wife was able to simply push the mailbox back into place. Unlike our unfortunate neighbors, we don’t have many lasting effects from the night of thumps and excitement. Even with the airbags, however, I’m sure the headaches are just starting for the hapless driver of the car.