I was waiting, but with a muted impatience. The kind that spirals into a single jolt of energy and makes you go tap, tap, tap on the steering wheel. I was already fourteen minutes late. I hated being late.
And then the light turned green.
I tightened my grip like I always do when I’m making a U-turn. I casually looked for oncoming traffic – seeing none, I made my turn.
As I veered around the corner of the lane, I heard the blast of a car honking its horn. By the time I turned my head, it was already too late. A loud thud. My car was spun several hundred degrees as I sat there, feeblish and futile, attempting to reconcile the clash between the remainder of my bodily inertia and the swirling chaos inside my brain. The impact was directly to the left of me, and the side airbags had deployed at once. They sent my glasses spiraling towards the passenger seat floor.
And then stop.
I feel like I am verging into mystical territory when I try to recall those few short seconds of impact. But I remember distinctly how surreal it felt, how time seemed almost bent out of shape; stretched, elongated into epochs of broken memory units, while I was chasing after the realization of what was happening to me, a half second behind, a half step too late.
That’s when I learned that my car was much smarter than I was giving it credit for. It had somehow already sensed that something terrible had happened and all of a sudden an operator was speaking to me through the speakerphone.
Like instinct, I started answering her questions, one by one.
And then after a few quick deep breaths, I gathered myself and stepped out of my broken car. And thus began my education on how to orchestrate the aftermath of a car accident.