Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Today's fortune: September 7, 2011

Today's fortune: Depart not from the path which fate has you assigned.
Because of the Olde English-ish wording of today's post, my intention tonight was to write something funny in Old World style. But then something happened today and I can't write funny tonight.

I almost got into a really bad car accident.

I was driving home from work, cruising down the highway. It was right around the start of rush hour, and the roads were crowded but traffic was flowing smoothly, about 55 miles per hour. Then I looked away. I took my eyes off the road. For no more than one second.

When I looked back, the line of cars less than 100 feet in front of me was stopped.

People have different reactions to these moments. Once when I was in college, on an icy morning I drove my pickup into the back of a semi truck. Fortunately I was only going about 15 miles per hour when it happened, but I still managed to mangle the front of my pickup and place a very small dent into the semi. In that incident, I hit the brakes, I slid on the ice and plowed into the truck all in less than a second, but to me it seemed like an eternity. And my memories of the event are strange. I still remember the song playing on the radio, but I can't recall the jerk of the seatbelt against my chest or the force of the crash.

Today was different (and maybe because I didn't actually collide). The incident lasted only a second or two, and it seemed like only a second or two.

When I saw the cars were stopped in front of me my instincts took over and I slammed on the brakes. My rear end fishtailed briefly but I straightened it out in time to maneuver into the next lane over, which was fortunately clear. My heart was pounding when I finally came to a stop, and my foot ached from crunching it down on the brake pedal.

Here's the crazy thing: two weeks ago, I had new brakes and tires put on my truck. Those new tires and brakes may have saved my life, or at the very least my bumper: I have no doubt I would have collided with the car in front of me on the old brakes.

But two weeks ago, my truck needed brakes. I could have waited a little while longer, especially in the economic funk Jamie and I have found ourselves in recently. But I departed not from the path which fate assigned. I had my brakes replaced.

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