I was coming home on my normal commute, taking toll roads this time because traffic was crazy and avoiding tolls would have taken an extra half hour. I picked up dinner for Jameson and I on the way.
As my exit came up I got over to the right and slowed down as I could see the line of cars taking the ramp was backed up onto the highway. This was not unusual during rush hour, plus the rightmost lane was right after a toll station so traffic was typically forced to slow down at this spot. I got in line to exit, coming to a stop.
I happened to glance in the rearview and saw the chrome grill of a truck coming at me way, way too fast.
In retrospect, I think I had about two seconds to react. A part of my brain was screaming, "HIT THE GAS!" and another part whispered, "It's too late." If I could have done anything it doesn't matter now because I hesitated for one second, and that was too long.
The impact was insane. I didn't hear any squealing brakes beforehand, just a horrible silence before this incredibly loud boom. My mouth was open but I don't know if I was screaming. My eyes were open too, because I saw the airbag deploy in front of me and the side airbags come down in my peripheral vision. Everything was chaos.
After what seemed like forever everything stopped. My ears were ringing and I couldn't hear anything for a few moments as I looked around in shock. I registered that the back windshield was shattered, then I slowly felt myself all over to try and tell if I was hurt. Finding that I could move my arms and neck, and there was no blood, I frantically searched for my phone. It had ended up under the gas pedal so it was lucky I wasn't hurt because I had to contort myself to get it.
I immediately called Jameson to tell him what happened. He calmed me down and told me to call 911 and then my insurance, and let me know he would be there right after the police and ambulance showed up. I tried to get out of the car and eventually succeeded after kicking my passenger door open. I immediately called 911 while taking stock of the other vehicles involved to see who might be injured. Fortunately it looked like everyone was shaken but ok, so the dispatcher sent highway patrol.
The truck that hit me had four kids in it, one of whom was the driver. I'm talking kids, like I'm guessing the driver hadn't been on the road for a year yet. I asked if they were ok, and when the answer was yes I asked for insurance information, which they did not have. The other two vehicles involved were a Jeep that had been in front of me, and a silver Honda that had been in front of him. Both had minor vehicle damage and seemed completely fine. My car, on the other hand, was totaled.
The truck that hit me. A GMC Sierra with a lifted body and chrome grill.
There's no point describing all that happened after that. We waited, exchanged information, got tow trucks. The dad of the driver of the red truck was the only one cited as they had clearly caused the accident. I grabbed as much stuff out of my car as possible, leaving useless things like old paperwork and tissue boxes and things I couldn't reach because they were smashed into the trunk or riddled with glass. Eventually everyone left, and the highway patrol officer gave me a lift to the nearest public parking lot right off the exit so Jameson could safely come get me.
I was really shaken up and upset, of course, but shockingly unharmed. My arms got it the worst, I could barely close my hands and from the elbows down I was stiff and lacking sensation. Since I remember seeing the airbag go off right in front of my face without hitting it I think I must have braced incredibly hard against the steering wheel. A few days later I felt a little sore at the base of my skull, near my tailbone, and on my right side near my ribs. But otherwise I really sustained very little damage. As I'm typing this more than a week later my arms are 90% back to normal, just some painful twinges in my right arm when I try to lift something and forget that it's still healing.
During all this I was very, very grateful that Jameson was there. It was good to have someone to look out for me and make sure I was ok. Although the night of the accident I felt really bad for him because both of us were worried about injuries we couldn't see, like internal bleeding or concussions, so we both barely slept at all. At one point I woke up and his face was right next to mine, like he was staying as close as possible to make sure I was still breathing. Sweet, but I hate to make him worry!!!
Anyway, after all that I was able to go home for Thanksgiving. It felt like a miracle. And it was also extremely tiring...less than 48 hours after a horrible car accident, getting on a plane and then driving two hours to get home at 2am. I was pretty well wrecked. But it was amazing, because for once almost my entire family was present. That almost never happens any more. I got to catch up so much (still not enough!) and we all took tons of photos that I can't WAIT to see. I'm so, so grateful that I could see everyone after such a horrible experience. It really helped me to feel better, and to feel loved.
When I came back from Thanksgiving there was a lot of work to do. In a weird twist of fate, weeks before this accident I had randomly called out from work for December 5th through 8th to try and use some PTO. This allowed me four full days to look for a new car. VERY grateful to whatever gods or fates made that happen!
My poor car was declared a total loss by my insurance, and I was given a rental car through the 8th.
I did a whole bunch of research, then drove around to five different dealerships looking at and test driving used cars.
I had forgotten how awful buying a car can be especially as a solo woman. Ugh.
At one dealership they wasted nearly an hour of my time trying to push me into buying a new car because they had nothing in their lot for me. Another dealership had sold the cars I was interested in days ago and had never taken them off the site.
One dealership was especially disappointing as they had a huge selection of Corollas, but every single one had an accident on the CARFAX.
Exhausted and annoyed, I made a final stop at a Chrysler dealership that had two lonely used Corollas sitting in their lot. The newer model had very low mileage and an unusually low price, so of course it had two major accidents on the CARFAX. The slightly older model turned out to be the best used car I'd looked at all day. The interior was clean; every other Corolla I'd tried had stains or cigarette burns or reeked of smoke/weed/dog. It started on the first try, unlike one 2018 from another dealership that took the salesperson three tries to start. It handled nicely and no indicator lights came on. It felt comfortable, and clean, and good. It felt right.
I took it.
The CARFAX had no accidents. It was once a fleet car, just like my first Corolla. To me, a good sign.
So far I'm very happy with it...the only flaw I've found is that there's a random soft knocking coming from somewhere. It doesn't seem to be mechanical, just sounds like something dangling or loose somewhere, so I will wait until my first oil change to address it. But really, to me it is a very nice car.
Some would criticize that I'm sticking with the same brand and model of car, and that it's a bland boring Corolla.
Those people are welcome to send me several thousand more dollars so I can get something more fun. Please do!
Consider that my first Corolla lasted ten years and was well on its way to breaking the 200k mark when it's life came to a premature end. And consider that it may very well have not only saved my life, but prevented me from getting any serious injuries in a very serious car accident.
So yes, damn right I'm going to get another Corolla. I'm open to Hondas and Mazdas too, but they are consistently out of my price range :P
A lot happened this past week. I'm just grateful to get through the bad parts, and to have people in my life who are there when things like this happen. I realize that not everyone is so lucky, and I may not always be either.