14 August 2009

No Navel-Gazing, for Once

I was going to write a contemplative post about leaving WhereIlive for Parentshome, and thus preparing to leave America for England, via one stop, but then something actually happened!  There was a real occurrence!

I was driving down WhereIlive's busy main road (in fact, a minor highway) this evening, when the light ahead turned red.  The large shiny pick-up truck ahead of me stopped, and I started to stop just a fractional moment too late, so I had to hit the brake hard in order to avoid crashing into him.  Only, when I hit the brake hard...it didn't work.  So I stepped down on it again.  And it didn't work.  And then I slammed into the truck.  Fortunately, I wasn't going very fast by that time, and the truck was apparently built of concrete (that's what it felt like when I hit it, anyway), so it didn't get a scratch on it. This was particularly fortunate in light of the fact that when I got out of my car to go tell the truck's driver that everything was fine, it turned out he spoke only Spanish.  He looked plenty nervous, which I suspect was because he didn't speak any English, but I also wondered if it might be that he didn't have any insurance.  I don't know how to say "insurance" in Spanish (as a friend of mine said tonight, that's next semester), and he clearly wasn't looking forward to engaging in conversation for whatever reason, so I think we were equally pleased that the truck was unharmed - as was the car.  Nonetheless, I had to drive it back home, without any brakes unless I depressed the pedal all way (when, fortunately, they worked).  

I rang my friend, and her husband came over with brake fluid and filled up the container.  Then he filled it up again.  Then the brakes got less spongy, but they still didn't work, so he filled it up a bit more.  When the brakes still didn't work, we concluded that there was an invisible leak in the brake line, so we left it.

I could say that I was overcome with fear - and the whole experience was pretty scary.  I could tell you that I wept - it was the sort of experience that might call forth tears of fear, or relief when it was all over.  But the real truth, sadly, is that once I realised I was still alive the very first thing I thought was, Oh, God, how much is this going to cost?  A response ingrained by all those years of being poor, but once more applicable.

Funnily enough, for years and years I had a chronic stress dream in which I would be driving very fast, and when I put my foot on the brakes to slow down, they wouldn't work.  I remembered this dream just after the truck had driven off and I'd pulled into a parking lot next to the main road to call my friend.  It is, I reflected, very strange to have a stress dream come to life.

Still, at least I had an exciting final night!

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