Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ten Years Ago, I Was Hit By a Drunk Driver

It's odd to think about now, but ten years ago (maybe eleven) I was hit by a drunk driver on my way home from night shift at Burger King. I was stopped at the intersection of Votaw and Meridian in Portland when the guy plowed into me and left the scene with his horn blaring. I make it sound like I was on foot, but I was in a car, though there wasn't much usable car left after this. The back end was under the vehicle and I definitely found my previously AWOL spare tire, because it came up through my backseat into the cab. His name was Landon Fluekiger, and he exists to this day on social media. He ditched his car in the Marsh parking lot and the police caught him. I thought it was odd how much our cars looked alike when I saw his being hauled away on a wrecker. I was in a green Topaz and he was in a green Thunderbird.

The crazy nut doing night shift at VP was convinced that my car was going to blow up. I'd managed to steer it into the shell parking lot with no power steering or brakes and got it to stop, but he wanted me to move it away from the gas. Conspiracy theories and all that. The illuminati and stuff. Whatever.

It's a funny story to tell now, but I still look behind me when I'm sitting at stop lights. I still get panicked and shaky when a car approaches from behind, because I think they aren't going to stop. This guy hit me at about highway speed when I was stopped at a red light.

There are a lot of stupid people in this world who take unnecessary risks on the road: speeding up toward cars that are slowing down, tailgating, not moving over when traffic is entering the freeway. Listen, I get it. It's human nature to be angry at other drivers, but you cannot risk the lives of other people. You just can't. I still think of this guy as a monster, and to tell you the truth, his Facebook page does little to dispel that idea. I never met the guy, unless you count the two seconds his engine was in my backseat. We might have been close enough to say hello. I mean who goes highway speed down a city street? I'll tell you who. That guy. Not only was he drunk, the official records said the police found drugs in his car as well.

I remember very clearly the call to his insurance (at least he had that much sense). They were like "we haven't heard from our client yet" and I chuckled and said, "Well, that's because he's in jail." I found that bit pretty amusing at the time, because I was sad and hurt and millennial. The world revolved around me. But let's be honest, at the time I was still a new driver and had been in the middle of my fair share of near misses. Some of them would have been rear-endings. But you know what? At least I would have stuck around.

I'd like to know how a Village Pantry parking lot full of cars and people can suddenly be empty after I got hit. All the witnesses took off. That's Portland for you; everyone probably had a warrant for their arrest, so to hell with me, right?

Oh, memories. Tl;dr: it's winter, slow down and leave earlier. Calm that lead foot and be sympathetic of those of us who are kind of scared to drive in the snow. We don’t all have four wheel drive and balls of steel. If you're one of those people who accept car accidents and eventual and inevitable, totally unavoidable and part of the normal driving experience, you probably caused most of them. It's a harsh reality that someone needs to say, so I'll say it. They were probably all your poor judgment.

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