Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Tale of Two Drives

Yesterday morning I found myself ready for work a bit early and considered leaving for work ahead of schedule. I realized I had another cup of coffee I could drink so sat down on my deck and relaxed for a few minutes, gathering my thoughts for the day and making a mental check list of things to do once I arrived in the kitchen. There was dough to be made for pastries, a walk in refrigerator to organize, inventory to me made for a grocery order and the various and sundry things to be done to get ready for a busy weekend at the Hotel.

After sitting and sipping, I finally left at my usual time and started off through my neighborhood for the boulevard to the highway. As I began to turn onto the entrance ramp, two police cars bracketed me and then pulled ahead onto the ramp, blocking my entrance. I slowed to a stop and as I had the top down, asked the officers who exited their vehicles quickly what the problem was. They had turned on their lights and three men were working quickly, setting up a road block and lighting flares. The officer at my car told me that the highway was closed and suggested I find another way to travel east that morning offering no further information. 

I was a bit chuffed, considering I am a creature of habit and pattern, so drove on by and attempted to gain access to the highway from another route further east. Each main road that I tried to enter the highway from was similarly being blocked by officers, cars and flares, so I resigned myself to taking a longer, slower more scenic route to work via the back roads. The radio was off, the top was down and it seemed a million stars were over head on the cool morning drive at 4 am. I wondered what had happened and speculated on what dignitary might be in town to warrant such actions but mainly was concerned that my morning routine had been thwarted and I would be later to arrive at work than had planned. 

Once at work, Christopher from the front desk greeted me at the door and exclaimed that he had been watching the new and had been incredibly worried about me. He had tried to call my cell phone several times during my commute, but as usual for the mornings, my ringer was off and I had not noticed the flashing light as I was driving and lost in thought. We both watched the early morning news and learned that there had been a series of fatal wrecks right along the stretch of highway that I travel to each morning. A fatal car wreck had prompted a MoDOT truck to stop and offer assistance directing traffic. In the darkness and morning hour, that man's truck was hit by another motorist and exploded, bursting into flames and killing the transportation worker. A passing car noticed the fire and called emergency services. When an ambulance and EMT workers arrived on the scene from the west side of the highway, their ambulance was also struck, forced off the road and overturned. The resulting chaos resulted in another wreck and all told, several people died and suffered serious injury.

I missed being there by the space of a few minutes, an extra cup of coffee, a pause to think and also the quick movement and prompt action of the police department in erecting the road blocks which changed my route. It made me think and consider. I count myself fortunate. I am still unsure how I feel about all of that.

In the evening after work and dinner, I decided to unwind and go for a long drive in the country. The air was cool, the sky clear and there was a perfect sunset on the horizon. This has always been one of my favorite times of the day to drive, during what my grandfather always called "the gloaming". The light is golden with hints of color, the wind was blowing with the top down and I turned on some of my favorite music and just motored through the curves. Downshifting and upshifting into each twist and wrap of the road, enjoying the breeze and performance of a car built to be enjoyed. I didn't think much of anything really, just relaxed and pondered on the day and how different these two drives were, almost like parenthesis that bracketed my day. The beginning of it and the end. I found my way back home and went to bed. I am still unsure what I think about all of that but I am thankful to be alive and for the perspective that those two drives gave on my day and on my life.



  1. I like to think that this kind of situations happen to us frequently, but we usually don't know, since the path that could have driven us to a fatality was not chosen and even so , the fatality wsas probably aborted because we didn't chose the path.

    Your story reminded me of the time I escaped a big accident and perhaps death. I was driving my car in the winter on a 2 lane boulevard. I was on the left lane and there was a car in front of me in the right lane. That other car suddenly turned on itself probably because of the ice or te snow. It made at least on 360. I was lucky enough to pass by the car when it was at 180. If I had passed it only a few seconds before or after, it would have hit me and I would have wound up in the opposite lane and a van would have hit me at full speed. After that, I looked in my mirror to see that the other car was right and it was. I continued my road to go to my friend's house. It's only later that night, when back home that I realized how close I had been to die. I was litterally shocked.

  2. I am glad you are still here. :)