March 9, 2012

Holy cow! My casual carpool accident report, part deux

Posted in uncategorized tagged at 9:57 am by Marise Phillips

So here we are, stuck on the freeway, all dressed (and all shook) up, with nowhere to go. It’s a very strange feeling, being stuck in a disabled shell of a car, as a steady swarm of traffic flows around you. Feels a bit like watching a movie, and then suddenly realizing you’re in it.


What also feels surreal is how unconcerned our driver continues to act regarding the well-being of his two passengers. Granted, I know he doesn’t know us, but seriously? Dude needs some sensitivity training. All he seems to care about, once the obligatory brief noises are made about whether we’re dead — no? ok, great! — is getting into his glove compartment, despite the fact that my knees are directly in front of it. He doesn’t bother with an, “Excuse me,” before reaching across brusquely, rifling around looking for things, not finding them, swearing loudly some more for good measure. Completely oblivious to the words his backseat passenger is using to explain how the impact caused her to jam her already-bad knee into the seat back, and HARD. Mr. Evil Principal has no interest in such facts. He hates Ferris Bueller. And with every passing second, it’s clear that he wants us out of his car and out of his life, asap.


That is, until that magic moment when I switch into peacemaker mode by looking for ways to validate his point of view about how the accident may have actually happened. Ways in which it might not be his fault. Looking ahead of us, I notice a pickup truck is also at a standstill, parked just in front of the car we rear-ended. So I wonder out loud, “Oh, wow… maybe that guy was just stopped there all along. If so, maybe the guy in front of us had to slam on his brakes? That would have made it really hard for you to stop in time.” And as soon as these words of comfort emerge, Mr. Cray-Cray gloms on to the idea, insisting, “Yeah! That’s what happened! Give me your information so you can back me up — that’s what happened. You can tell them.” Them being his insurance company, I suppose.


And I’m thinking to myself, “Oh no, no way. I was just saying that to be nice. Don’t you get it? Even if that pickup truck *was* stopped there the whole time, you should have been scanning the road 3-4 cars ahead of you. You should have known 30 seconds in advance that you were going to have to avoid him.” But what I’m actually saying is a non-committal, “Mmmm,” while wondering how the hell I was going to extract myself from him now. As per usual, I simply return to my trusty e-voidance device, the iPhone, and continue composing texts to friends and a pithy but outraged 140-character shout-out to the twittersphere. As I hit send, I glance behind me and notice that my fellow passenger is just as social network-obsessed. She’s clearly having as much fun with this as I am, and wants to make sure all her friends are kept up to date. A fine woman, no doubt!


Meanwhile, it occurs to The Gingerbread Man that it’d probably be a good idea to start making his way over to the right shoulder. We slowly make our way through three lanes of traffic — a process which elicits no honks, which I find rather remarkable. At last we are in the safety zone, and I waste no time in breaking out of the little smashed up metal box I’ve been trapped in. Though only 5 minutes have elapsed since it happened, it feels like more than an hour, and I’m more than ready to be on my way. I’ve got meetings and stuff — no more time for accident related shenanigans! 


But of course we have to stick around and endure him scrabbling around for paper to provide our contact details. We have to waste more time pretending like I’m going to tell the world “his side” of the story, etc. But despite all this, what ends up catching my attention above everything else, is that my fellow passenger’s name is Nimmi Solomon. A name you don’t hear too often, and now that I look at her, take in her 5’1″ stature and sultry dark looks, I realize, “I know HER!!” And it’s not because we both happen to live in Alameda. No. It’s because we met 8 or 9 years ago in San Francisco, at the Edinburgh Castle bar’s Trivia Night! Our mutual friend Kristy Sammis (initially an “imaginary friend” from Nimmi’s POV) brought us together through a shared love of Tenderloin dive bars and the arcane rituals of Trivia Gaming.


This, of course, only proves my partner’s long-held belief that there are only 200 people in the world. Eventually, you get to meet them all. And some, several times — others, in the craziest of places. And for a lucky few, the crazy and the repeat is combined. Nimmi is one of those people whom it’s a real pleasure to meet again. Fun, funny, cooler than shit. That’s her. So when I realized who she was, I couldn’t wait to remind her, “Girl, we already KNOW each other!” You know?