Noilly Prattle: Looking Back: 13 – the bubble burst

Friday, January 4, 2013

Looking Back: 13 – the bubble burst

      You wonder, at least I do, when you pass an automobile accident on the road, what it feels like to be on the inside of the car. I don't honestly remember too clearly really. I guess, at first, we were all in a state of shock. You wonder what the hell happened if you aren't unconscious or dead. Then you begin to assess your physical condition; you think of getting out of the damn car before it blows up or some damn thing; you check with the other passengers to see how they are; little by little you feel some relief that no one seems seriously injured, except, wait a minute, there is no response from Nancy. Then you notice the bloodstained rearview mirror that is jammed into the shattered windshield and the inert young woman bleeding from the head slumped against the back of the seat.

     Another thing you may wonder, upon sighting an accident, is how the police and ambulance seem to magically appear, but magically and mercifully they do appear on the scene and take all decisions out of your quite incapable hands. The police gathered the necessary information and surmised what had happened. The woman who was driving the other car was unlicensed and uninsured. Why she stopped in the middle of entering the highway was unclear, panic and inexperience I supposed. The shock of impact apparently caused her to hit the accelerator and careen her car into the drainage ditch on the other side of the highway. Fortunately, neither she not her little boy were seriously injured. In my car, however, Nancy remained unconscious. The ambulance arrived and took her to a nearby hospital. Meanwhile, the Ts had been contacted by the police and notified of the accident and that their daughter had been taken to the hospital.

     My old '55 Ford couldn't be driven and had to be towed to a garage where I would later make arrangements to have it repaired. Finally, all the tiresome paperwork was finished and I went to the hospital where Nancy had been taken and the others had also gone. I don't remember how I got there, perhaps the police had been kind enough to drive me. I was dreading having to face the Ts and now that the shock was wearing off feeling pretty depressed, but I steeled my nerves to face the music. I was expecting anger, and accusations and recriminations of all sorts in my feverish brain.

     Everybody was there when I walked in. As I approached I fell apart and kept apologizing over and over. Everyone assured me, over and over, that it wasn't my fault and no one blamed me, that my quick braking and swerving reactions had probably substantially reduced the force of the impact and prevented a much worse outcome. They told me that Nancy had regained consciousness and had incurred a mild concussion and bruised forehead, but that she would make a complete recovery and there would be hardly any scarring.

     I contacted my ship and requested a few days leave of absence to negotiate repairs for my '55 Ford. The other guys went back to Key West and I stayed on at the Ts. When the details were ironed out I went back to Key West by bus, alone. I was in pretty low spirits with a crippled car in a garage back in Miami facing a pretty hefty repair bill. The other party, as I mentioned, was uninsured. I don't remember if had collision insurance for my own car, probably not, so the entire cost of repairs would have to come out of my own pocket. I was in no mood for the patronizing reception I got from my division Ensign when I came back on board the Salinan.

To be continued...

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