It was only meant to be a short drive. Pop out to Dunkin’ for a quick coffee before my daughter’s weekly Zoom call with her class. The drive out there is maybe 3 miles and should have taken like, 15 minutes, tops.

I was heading back home, the way I’ve done thousands of times, on a familiar street that I knew the timing of the traffic lights like the back of my hand.

Out of the corner of my eye, on the left. Black Jeep. Big. I got green. They’ve got red. Oh God they’re just going. Exactly 1/2 a second to try to react, turn, stop, honk, brace…

All I could do was slightly angle my car and turn the wheel hard right before the SUV plowed into my left front side. That unmistakeable sound of metal and plastic smashing together. Car spinning quickly, hitting again somehow. And then nothing.

I managed to coax my car up the street, wheel grinding in protest, a limp font bumper clawing at the tires. I could tell immediately that it was pretty bad. More importantly, nobody was hurt. After my car was parked safely, more or less, and I knew both my daughter and I weren’t injured, at all, I could process the reaction, the fear, the anger, and finally, have a sip of coffee and think for a second.

How it got the back just as bad is just wild to me.

With the combined jolt of caffeine and adrenaline, I could barely contain my racing thoughts. My eyes glanced up to the dash cam I had installed only weeks before, a review unit for a tech blog I write for, and I felt a little better, knowing that I would be vindicated no matter what the other person said.

I gathered my necessary information and started down toward the other vehicle. The only sort of mask I had on me was a red shop rag I kept in the glove box in case I needed to check my oil or wipe up some other car fluid. I’m still not used to having to carry a mask around, I barely go anywhere to be honest. The rag barely reached around the back of my head, but I secured it in place and walked down the road.

I identified myself as the other driver, asked if everyone was okay, asked if anyone else got hit. Blank stares. No answers. Fucking great. I could barely keep myself from screaming at the guy, who looked at me like I was from Mars. Thoughts and questions were firing as quickly as my brain could think of them.

You realize you could have really hurt someone.

You didn’t even slow down.

What if someone was walking across the street?

But what good would that have done? Wouldn’t have helped anything. It’s not like this guy was looking to get into an accident.

But you can bet your ass I’m never going through that intersection again. I’m still waiting to hear what I’ll get for my car. It’s for sure a total loss, 8 years old and over 175k miles. I knew this little gray Mazda inside and out, though… and I knew it was good for a lot more miles, and now I’ve got to find a replacement, without incurring a new loan, and hoping that one will be just as good.

I live. I die. I live again. Shiny and chrome. RIP, Little Gray Ghost.

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