I’m gonna tell this story from my perspective, cause it’s the only one I’ve got. And it’s funnier than Tony’s.
I like to think of myself as a leader, a fix-it girl, or the cooler head of the old “cooler heads prevailed” saying. I found out yesterday that, when it comes to Tony, and his personal health and safety, I’m panic girl.
Tony left for work as usual, at about 7:30-ish. A few minutes later, the phone rang. I let the machine get it.
Sleepy Tony Voice say “Uh, Emilie, uh, I’ve been in an accident (spitting ptuh pthu).” At this point I levitate out of bed and fly to the phone. I get there and get just enough info from Tony to really panic:
He’s by the side of the road about three miles from the house.
He’s really disoriented. Pthu.
He’s spitting a lot.
He’s been hit hard on the chin.
He wants me to come. Pthu. Oh, and a police officer is there already. Click.
Now, entering from the deepest recesses of Emilie’s hind brain, let’s give her a big Blogservations welcome, it’s PANIC!!! Tony and I have agreed to a simple rule between us that has really saved us in our marriage several times: We both can’t lose our rutabagas at the same time. Whoever gets to rutabaga loss first gets to keep it, the other one has to pull it together for the sake of the other. Seeing as how TONY was the one in the accident, I should have assumed he got there first. I didn’t. In hindsight, it seems so clear, though.
Crap, Crap, Crapity, Crap-crap… what to do. (first thought) I need to go to him. Let’s go. I need to get the girls up, ok?, shoes, and phone for a start. OK. Where is my phone? I know I’ll call it and find it. Panic girl dials her cell… it rings… and goes right to voicemail… “Hi, this is Cindy, tell me what you want and I’ll call you back.”
Cindy? Who the F is CINDY? AND WHY DID SHE STEAL MY PHONE! And put her own message on it. Doesn’t she know I am having a crisis!?!?!? I called again and got Cindy again. Then I said to my self, “Ok – You’ve got no phone. This makes things harder, but you can keep moving. Shoes!” and I go wildly to the closet to get my shoes, passing my cell phone on the bathroom vanity.
Hey, there’s my phone! What number was I dialing? Twice? Em, you’ve lost every bit of your New York cool, girl. Pull it together. So, I grab my shoes, and then realize I need socks. So, I put down the shoes to get the socks. Then I think, I need my shoes, so I put down the socks to get the shoes, and… this went on for another minute or so. Finally I got my feet covered properly, and I burst into Eleanor’s room to get her up and off to an accident.
This is where my brain fully engaged. There are some behaviors and rules that become
automatic sacred in life, like potty training or clicking the seatbelt. I thing that a Pavlovian instinct saved my daughter from a bit of trauma.
Don’t. Wake. Sleeping. Babies.
I backed out of the nursery as quietly as I could, and hauled balls to the phone. There is a wonderful family living across the street who have several very polite children, who respect their parents a whole bunch. So, I had to wheedle the boy who answered the phone to, “Yes, PLEASE wake your mother up!” That bright boy, who gathered quickly the urgency of the situation, volunteered to just send his mother over.
Then I called Bambi. If ever their was a bright spot in the universe, it is and will always be Bambi. She heard the panic in my voice, she calmed me down, gave me instructions using small, easy to understand words, and TOLD me what she was going to do to help me out. “I’m coming to be with the girls.” She’s the one who doesn’t panic.
I hung up with Bambi, and the neighbor arrived. I let her know that a face familiar to the girls was on its way and I ran out the door. Then, I ran back in the door for my purse. Then, I ran back out the door. I checked again on my shoes. Yep. Still tied to my feet. Progress.
On the way to the accident location, I called another friend, Sam. I was supposed to be picking up sandwiches for a funeral reception that morning, and had no idea what was going to become of me that day, so I wanted her to know she needed to make other arrangements. She was already at work and said she totally understood, and said to stop myself for a moment of prayer. In small, easy to understand words, she told me she would pray, and we did. I snapped the phone closed and thought hard about my next prayer.
I always feel that every prayer should be a Thank you note to God. In this situation, I was stumped for just a second. Where is the thankfulness in this tableau? Then it came to me: “Heavenly Father, I’ve called three times this morning for help, and every call was answered. Thank You for giving me loving friends who come when I need them. Thank You for the help you sent to Tony in the minute he needed it. Thank You for guiding him to call me. Thank you for these many gifts. Help me to live these next few moments of my life well. AMEN.”
And, after a… um… creative circumventing of a traffic light, I finally got to Tony, who was standing next to a police cruiser and our very crumpled car, holding his left arm gingerly. He had rather a sheepish look on his face. The relief in seeing him there, whole and upright, was like coming up from deep water. I could breath again. I could hear fully again.
The car, on the other hand, was quite obviously a goner. The hood was all crumpled up. The windshield was broken in two places. A green liquid was slowly bleeding out from beneeth. One door hung limply open. Alas, poor Protege, you died protecting your master. Thanks be to Mazda. Bless you crumple zones.
A little apart from Tony was a slightly annoyed looking motorist. I hardly can blame him for looking put out, standing there in the drizzle Tony rear ended him. But even the cop seemed to think that it was mostly unavoidable. There was an accident further up the road; a woman had fallen asleep and wrapped her car around a tree. Traffic had backed up while the authorities cut her out of her car, and Tony, coming over the crest of a hill, found a line of stopped traffic where there usually isn’t one. He tells me that he had a second to consider swerving off the road into one of two ditches (which seemed like the wrong choice to him, and, upon examination, I agree with him. These were not average ditches.) or hitting the car ahead of him. He also said that one doesn’t see the airbags go off. One only sees that the airbags had gone off.
We unloaded all the personal items from the remains of what was my first new car. “Stripped the body”, as it were. We’ll need to go to the wrecker yard later to collect the plates.
Tony’s forearm is developing a nice bruise, much like one an inexperienced archer gets when learning to shoot. He’s also got a lesser bruise where the seatbelt caught him. I bet, under that beard, there is a bit of bruising, too. All in all, he’ s just fine.
We’ll pay the fine.
We’ll get another car. (Thanks Bambi for lending us your spare.)
The big lesson from today is this: find out if you are the sort that falls to pieces, then surround yourself with people who DON’T. Then it’s easy. You just need to wade into the shallow end of the panic pool and call for help.