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Car crash livened up break

It is a law in the United States to brake, and eventually stop, when approaching a red light. Last Wednesday, an iconoclastic elderly woman practiced civil disobedience; in fact, she practiced it with a Buick directly into the back of my friend Amanda’s Jeep.

For the uninitiated, a collision is an odd, and some would say, surreal experience. Picture this. You’re talking about the preview for “Finding Neverland,” you’re slowing at the light, you’re wondering if Johnny Depp is so famous, he dresses up as other famous people so that he’s mobbed at an acceptable level, and as you reach to the backseat to grab your wallet, you catch an approaching maroon flash … speeding up? EEEERRR WHAAMMMM CRUUUNCH.

Your car jumps up and down, rocking like a bucking bronco on Red Bull. Nothing moves in slow motion; the movies are dead wrong. The car zooms into a forceful fury, marching into anything ahead; in this case, an ugly Buick Skylark.

After the initial five seconds of panic, all parties involved moved to phase two of the stages of a Non-Life-Threatening Automobile-Crash ®. This phase is known as the “Oh, crap, I hope I won’t be held responsible for this” phase.

My friend panicked, with a look of terror resembling someone about to stop, drop and roll. The woman in the third car unbuckled her seat belt and sprinted out of the car to make sure her precious Buick was going to pull through. Upon seeing the slight damage done to her car, the woman turned a stunningly beautiful shade of bright red and her head appeared to turn 360 degrees.

She screamed some rather choice words at my friend, and then, upon realizing other people were in the car, turned to me and yelled similar things. As we all know, passengers are the cause of over 78 percent of most accidents, so she was both justified and rational in her liberal use of profanity. It was almost as pleasant as watching Bambi’s mother die.

The elderly instigator as reduced to a Chaplin-esque sheepish smile. Since she had actually sped up before she hit the Jeep, the front of her car was crushed like a can of Coors and leaking fluid like a busted Gatorade bottle. The angry lady and I urged her to leave the car, and she did just that. (As the car was now hissing, we smartly got the hell away from it.) She then quietly faded from the picture, as did the crazy lady, who actually drove away after a short wait. I was under the mistaken impression that the parties involved had some obligation to stay where they were, but then again, shopping for last minute Thanksgiving items is far more important than silly things like “insurance information” or “legalities.” There’s a busted-up car with no license plate slowly plodding along on the highways of Southern New England right now. Happy Thanksgiving!

According to network news, all accidents have unsung heroes. In our case, it was a man whose name I never learned and whose face I cannot remember. Talk about unsung. He presumably leapt onto the scene from a phone booth and told me to hold Amanda’s neck in place and apply pressure, because she had complained of pains there possibly related to whiplash. He assessed the situation, made sure someone had called the police, and then left. I assume he was an off-duty firefighter, but I have no idea. Conceivably people just stand around various locales, waiting for calamities so they can offer advice and help. My guidance counselor never told me this.

Soon the ambulance meandered down the road and two men stepped out, each with a sense of urgency; it was obvious to me they were probably missing the movie because of this too. I was still holding Amanda’s neck in place and was sure if I were to remove my hands to scratch my nose, her head would crumble off her shoulders and roll out of the car and down the road. I figured my itch could stand to survive another minute of non-scratchery. The paramedics asked me if I was okay. “My hands are sore from doing this, but other than that, I’m fine,” I replied, and they moved on to my immobile friend.

I felt pure guilt as they loaded Amanda onto a stretcher; she was headed to the hospital and scared to death, I was standing on the sidewalk with nary a scratch and wondering, “Man … I bet you we just missed the Let’s All Go To The Lobby song.”

After that, the chaos of the wreck was streamlined into a series of names and numbers. Fortunately, I had never been in this situation, so I had no idea what to expect. Would I be asked to describe what I had seen, or testify in court?

Would our accident be sensationalized beyond rational thought on the evening news?

The answers were no and (thankfully) no.

I merely gave a police officer my name and told him I was a passenger. To my knowledge no one gave the officers more than their name and phone number.

Now, I’m not debating the intelligence of my local police, but I find it hard to believe that by simply heading to the scene of the accident a cop could piece it together step-by-step, unless one of them were a super genius. And, if he or she were a super genius, why haven’t I been busted for that time I threw a wrapper out my window?

Ultimately, I’m just happy that no one was seriously hurt, and that I didn’t need to think very hard about an idea for a column this week. It was nice to be home for an uneventful holiday.

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