Luck is a very thin wire between survival and disaster, and not many people can keep their balance on it.
Hunter S. Thompson
Old Blue, some of you will recall, is our 2003 Dodge Caravan, our little engine that could, the used mini-van that I picked up to replace my Honda Accord when our family grew to five back in 2006. It came to us with 60,000 miles on it, originally from Florida it had been traded in at a strip mall auto place in California, and we gave it a real run around – to Colorado, back to California, then across country, pulling a U-Haul trailer behind it to Indiana. We were even thinking about a trip down to Florida at some point. We put another 160,000 miles on it and had our share of minor, and not so minor issues over the years but it’s been a good car. Yes, the paint was a little faded, it had a rusty dent where the tree had fallen on it and the right rear bumper wasn’t as rounded as it once had been but all those blemishes, along with the self-designed Woman on the Verge bumper sticker just gave it character and made it easier to spot in the parking lot of the grocery store. It had seen a lot of life changes and even sheltered us for a time when our world collapsed around us. My teenage learned to drive in that car. It was a member of the family.
Then in January I accompanied my teenager to the BMV (Bureau of Motor Vehicles) for her driving test. I chatted with the woman behind the counter, remarking on the lovely mild winter we were having and told her that thanks to the pleasant weather my daughter had been able to get in extra practice. I wouldn’t let her drive, I said, if we were having a lot of snow like last year. She said, “Honey, she lives in Indiana. You aren’t doing her any favors not letting her drive in snow.” So today, the kids having been home for the entire week due first to snow and then today to bone chilling cold and being stricken by a bad case of cabin fever, I said yes, when my daughter asked if she could drive over to her friend’s house for the afternoon. We’d been to town the day before and the highway was clear and dry so I cautioned her about the local roads, reminded her that ice forms on bridges and said to give herself extra time to slow down. Text me when you get there, I said.
She called half an hour later, crying. My heart stopped when I heard “Mom, I crashed!” When she calmed down she told me she was making her turn off the highway onto the local road, when she hit ice and slid straight into the guardrail. The airbags deployed (I think that was the worst of it – shocking and painful – her face is sore and abraded) and the guardrail did its job. She was lucky that she was already going slow – if she’d gone through the guardrail there was a steep drop into a v-shaped gulley and the car might have rolled. As it was, due to the age and miles on the car, more than the actual injuries to it, the insurance company appears likely to ‘total’ it. The insurance will cover a rental for a couple of weeks but with a blue book value of about $1200 and a deductible of $1000 it looks like we will be hard pressed to replace Old Blue!
The important thing is my daughter is okay. She was worried that I would be angry but I told her that I was just sorry that she had to go through such a traumatic experience. I reassured her that like with everything else we would just roll with it. Hey – I already have my next emergency all lined up – we still don’t have water and now the septic system appears to be frozen and is backing up! Onward!