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A Close Call

By Minda Zetlin

"Jesus!  Where did it happen?"

"Out on the turnpike.  Couple of weeks ago.  I went right perpendicular into the truck."

"Whose fault?"

"What do you think?  I was passing him in the left lane, and he didn't see me coming, so he shifted lanes right into me.  Just crumpled that little car like styrofoam."

"Wow.  Close call, huh?"

"Uh-huh.  I thought I was checking out for sure."

"So what did you think about?  Did you think about your wife?"

"Nope.  Wasn't time.  And my life didn't flash before my eyes or any thing like that.  First thing I thought was that I was going to have a quick and easy trip out of here.  Thought, first thing I'd feel would be the heat of the truck.  And then it would be all over before I knew it."

"Wow.  And then you weren't even hurt."

"I was real lucky.  I mean nothing happened to me, nothing.  And you should have seen the car!"

"Totaled?"

"I mean, totally totaled.  See, what you have to understand is that the wheels on the truck come up to the window.  So, I was, like, sliding under the truck."

"Yeah, I hear people get their faces taken off that way."

"I believe it.  Anyway, I was sliding under there, and the wheels came into the car.  The glove compartment just popped right out onto the seat.   And I kept thinking, 'Now I'm gonna die.' 'OK, I'm gonna die now' 'No?   OK, now I'm gonna die.' Then, finally, the car stopped moving and I thought, O.K., now it's going to burst into flames.  But it didn't.  So I finally just opened the door open and went running over to the median.  And there I was.  It was incredible.  These people came up to me and like, they kept looking at the car and then looking at me and then they would touch me to see if I was really there."

"Bet that truck driver was relieved."

"Oh man.  He was pale as a ghost.  He looked worse than I did."

"Well, of course.  That idiot."

"It was unreal.  I was standing there and I looked down and there was sort of a little grain of something on my finger.  And what it was was a tiny piece of glass from the windshield, you know?  So I went to brush it off and I got the tiniest little cut.  There was like one drop of blood.   And I went, 'Aw shucks!' because, up to that point I'd come out without a scratch.  Literally, without a scratch."

"Oh, too bad."

"Yeah, so at first I was just numb, you know?  Like, the police came and asked me if I was O.K. and I said yeah, except that I was late for work.   So they drove me in.

"Well, of course by that time I really was pretty late and I thought the boss might get real aggravated or something because he's real touchy about that kind of thing, you know?  So anyway, I explained what happened and he said it was fine, and he was glad I wasn't hurt and then I went and sat at my desk and started looking at some reports, and suddenly I started bawling.  It was embarrassing as hell, but I couldn't stop.

"Cause, I realized, I came so close.  That could've been it, you know, my whole life.  I'd never get rich and famous, never retire to the Bahamas, never even make VP, right?  All over.  I mean I was blubbering like a little kid."

"Sounds heavy."

"Yeah.  So, anyway, after that, for about the next three days I was really floating.  Just completely out of touch with the world.  You know, there's nothing like having almost bought it to make you feel loose and easy and disconnected from everything."

"Yeah, you look more spiritual or something."

"All those stupid little aggravations that usually bug you, just can't touch you for a while.  It's great.  Too bad it has to wear off."

"So what did your wife say about all this?  Was she relieved, or pissed about the car?"

"Oh, she was relieved.  She said, 'God must have wanted you to live.'  'The hell with that,' I said.  'If God wanted me to live, He could have done it a lot simpler by just leaving me alone.  He could have skipped the whole thing.'

"'No', I said, 'clearly, God wanted the Toyota to die.  That must have been his purpose.  He just wanted to wipe that Toyota off the face of the earth.' And you know, God's got a point, because five days later we got this check from the insurance company, and then we bought this Nissan, which actually runs a lot better.  So He must have looked down and figured it was time for me to have a hatchback.  And boy, when God makes a decision, you'd just better not get in His way..."

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