A collision with reality

Baby's first step, baby's first word, baby's first date, baby's first &


166; car accident?

They don't warn you about that one.

And so there I was &

an unsuspecting victim of fate. Even though I was about to join the league of 6.5 million other Americans who have automobile crashes each year, I was still in denial of the fact that it could happen to me.

During a trip to Portland I drove to the Whole Foods Market to buy some chicken noodle soup for my 102-year-old surrogate grandmother. I drove along, extra cautious because of the unfamiliar terrain, assuming that my endless karma points would have me set for life. Then all of a sudden, BAM! A car door came out of nowhere and broke off my passenger-side mirror. Great.

Thanks a lot, karma.

Needless to say, I didn't deliver any soup that evening. All of the stress of handling my first accident alone (my only inkling of what to do derived from television and movie scenes), the anxiety about calling my parents, the insurance companies, together with the humbling knowledge that it could have been much worse, made me exhausted.

All I could do was put on pajamas, cover myself with a blanket, and wait for the knot of fear in my stomach to loosen.

"Why me?" I wondered, "And why now?"

But a better question to ask myself might have been, "Why on earth wasn't I prepared to deal with something like this?"

After all, I spent almost six hours every Saturday for almost four months in Driver's Education learning how to be a great driver. But that was all that I learned: how to avoid getting into an accident.

So what about the accidents you can't prepare or study for? Why didn't I learn what to do when all of my other training had failed me?

Perhaps it's because some things you just have to learn for yourself.

In the aftermath since the accident I've felt as though I've been studying on overtime, and therefore have learned more than I could imagine. Now I understand how car insurance works. I understand how lucky I was that no one was hurt (except my ego), and I discovered that I never want to have a car accident again.

Since the average American enjoys the inconvenience of experiencing at least one automobile accident in their lifetime, I may be just lucky enough to have this be my first and last crash.

However if I do end up in another accident, at least now I've taken the crash course on how to cope when facing that kind of awful situation. After all, some things cannot be taught; they can only be learned.

"What to do after a car accident" is one of those unteachable lessons, and you don't get to choose when you take the course.

You just have to try your best to pass the class.


is a freshman at Southern Oregon University earning her degree in business management. She lives in Ashland.

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