When a Fender Bender Smashes into your Day
In my dream, I rented a car for the day, got involved in a fender bender on a major highway, rode pillion in a luxury tow-truck, rented another car, the same model as the first, and arrived home six hours later.
Except this was a living dream. Its teachings have been so helpful in the tumultuous ten days since then, and serve well at any time.
I rarely rent a car mid-week but I hadn’t visited Mom in over two weeks. A motorcycle show one weekend and a blizzard the next ruled out making the four hour round trip I do most weekends. So I decided to go on Tuesday. Even when picking up the car, fate intervened. Inadvertently, I’d presented the wrong credit card for payment but realized it in time to switch it for the card that carries the rental insurance.
After finishing preparation of my year-end books and dropping them off with my accountant I headed south on a dreary, cold, rainy afternoon. Traffic anywhere around Toronto gets jammed almost anytime and that day was no different. It was building towards heavy but moving well at a constant pace in all lanes below the posted speed, including the far left lane where I was. A momentary glance at the radio and back brought me to two bright brake lights on a white Honda Civic, so close that a collision was unavoidable. The jolt struck me like a lightning bolt, not physically, but it brought an immediate, clear recognition of profound meaning at a deeper level.
Both cars were drivable, at least to get out of traffic. Slowly, we inched over to the left shoulder and turned our four-way flashers on. The WTF expression on the other driver’s face as she got out of her car was understandable.
There was much to be grateful for even as we stood there getting soaked. True to reputation, the tow trucks were there before I shut the car off, their massive bodies protecting us from traffic. Neither the other driver or I were injured. No one else piled into me, nor did the Honda hit anyone else. We waited at least thirty minutes to find out the police were too busy with other activities to respond to a fender bender. So, once we had clearance, Joe and Johnnie “hooked our cars” and hauled us for another half hour to the nearest accident reporting center. Our business wrapped up quickly, just another fender bender report for the officer to complete. The other woman was very gracious and her teenage daughter, also in the car, thanked me for my understanding, an odd juxtaposition.
Johnnie drove me to another branch of the rental agency where I completed the accident report. He continued to the designated repair shop and I drove home. I parked in the driveway and went into my warm, dry, cozy haven, fed a ravenous Measha, and sat down.
I hadn’t thought to call friends or family as it wasn’t necessary. That came later. The jolt continued to reverberate however. What message was so important that it required a lightning strike?
Pay attention was obviously one of them. Maintain healthy boundaries and a safe distance. We’re hearing that a lot lately! Keep my eyes focused on my path, be responsive to changing conditions, and don’t get distracted by the chaos and fear around me. Focus on the things I can control rather than those (most things) I can’t.
Stop looking elsewhere for solutions when the relevant signs are right in front of you. So often we pray and ask for guidance and miss the obvious. Usually it’s because we’re looking for a specific answer. There’s no need to complicate things and look for solutions from external sources when they’re within us the whole time.
At the same time, don’t overlook those in need. What to us could have been traumatic, didn’t even hit the radar of the probably thousands of people who passed us while we were disabled. In this case, there was no need for their involvement, likely exacerbating the situation. They could see emergency help on site and needed to keep their eyes focused on their path.
Always, help is all around. Sometimes we need to ask; other times it appears. Just be aware of it.
Most of all, express your gratitude for the many things that go right, even during perceived adversity.