by MIKE TODD
“Dude!” my buddy Rob yelled, but nothing could be done. The white Hyundai continued hurtling towards us, on a collision course with destiny. Destiny being, in this case, the rear bumper of my wife’s Honda Civic.
When I’d picked Rob up at the train station moments earlier, the day seemed full of promise. “You’re going to get into a wreck very soon” was not the promise we were shooting for.
Prior to last week, I was building on a 17-year streak without a car accident. Cal Ripken, Jr.’s streak (of continuous baseball games) was a measly 16 years. But you know what they say about streaks: If you have a good one going, some moron will probably mistake their gas for their brakes, and that’ll be that.
As we drove about 25 mph down a crowded street, the white bullet shooting out of the driveway to our right didn’t warrant much attention until its complete lack of intention to stop became clear. I swerved left and pressed the gas, and for the moment just before impact, wondered if I’d accidentally driven us into a demolition derby.
With an expensive-sounding SMACK!, the Hyundai T-boned our rear passenger side, jarring me and Rob to the left.
“Boy howdy!” I yelled, because this is a family publication.
Rob whipped around in his seat and reported, “Dude, they’re laughing.”
I pulled off onto the right shoulder as the Hyundai cruised merrily past, its two occupants chatting and smiling.
We pulled back onto the road and followed them into the left turn lane.
“Maybe they’re pulling into this strip mall to talk to us there,” Rob said.
But the car turned left and just kept on going down a side street as if nothing had happened. If you haven’t laid on the horn and blinked your lights at anyone lately, it’s really much more therapeutic than you might think. Still, they just drove along as if we weren’t there.
The car turned into a college campus parking lot and took its time going up and down the lanes, looking for a spot.
When it finally stopped, Rob jumped out and leaned into their window.
“Is something wrong?” one of the girls asked.
“You just smashed into our car back there,” Rob, for some reason, needed to explain.
We should have transcribed the stories that poured forth from their car over the next few minutes, in case we ever wanted to adapt them into a screenplay. The driver wasn’t paying attention. She mistook the gas for the brakes. She’s still learning to drive. In any event, neither of them noticed the accident, as if the huge dent in the front of their car had appeared there through immaculate collision.
The fact that Rob saw them laughing immediately after impact did support their contention that they hadn’t noticed anything, which would lead a reasonable person, and perhaps even the reader(s) of this column, to wonder, were these two people on drugs? All I can tell you is that I spent five years at Penn State, including two years living in a fraternity house, so I have no idea what a person on drugs might look like.
I can tell you who looked sober, though: the owner of the car, a friend of the two menaces, who came out to survey the damage, and who promised that we were in good hands. He also said that, like a good neighbor, he’d be there. This was quite reassuring, since he had no insurance. He did produce what I believe to be the only driver’s license among the three of them, though.
So our Civic’s in the shop right now, getting $700 in repairs that, ideally, somebody else will pay for. If you think there’s a great chance of that happening, though, you’re probably in no condition to operate a motor vehicle.