- Kathleen Kelly, You've Got Mail
When I first heard that line years ago, I loved it, but I didn't know if I could relate. Did I lead a small, quiet, insignificant existence in the vast scheme of this enormous world? Today I experienced a glimpse of what it was like for people who lead much more exciting lives, and I'm still reeling.
On my way to a town about 30 minutes outside my city, my car began to shake and emit an odd sound. I let off the gas to slow, and was promptly honked at and glared at by "inconvenienced" motorists. Before I knew it, the car let out an explosive belch, and copious amounts of smoke filled the air. In my rear view, I couldn't see anything but smoke. I quickly pulled over, as the cars behind me were blinded by the white smoke billowing from my hood.
Upon pulling over, the smoke continued, so I decided to open the hood and let it air out. It was at this moment I realized I wasn't going to get to the school I was scheduled at, in a timely fashion. Calling my boss, I got out and fiddled to open the hood. As my boss's daughter answered the phone, I lifted the hood to a flame-engulfed engine. I don't quite remember, but I may have cursed and hung up on the poor girl. (My apologies, PMK!)
With visions of exploding vehicles in my head, I snatched my purse out of the passenger seat, and waddled into the knee-high snow to put some distance between me and the impending disaster. I called 911 and despite her varied questions, only seemed to be able to say, "my car is on fire!" I'm sure she thought I was just super capable.
At this point, I turned to see that 2 vehicles had pulled over, and both drivers were yelling at me to get further away, as it was on fire.
"My car is on fire!" I agreed. Massive conversationalist, I am.
One man ran over wielding a small fire extinguisher, and he sprayed underneath the car. We managed to get the hood back up again, despite the heat, and he sprayed that sucker out. Well, mostly. It kept flaring up and smoking, but the fire department was on their way. The second motorist invited me to warm up in his car, as I was shaking. It wasn't just the cold, though. Pretty sure I was in shock.
The firefighters arrived, and doused everything. They comforted now-in-full-blown-shock-me and then I was shuffled to a police officer's car, where we waited for the tow truck.
The constable eventually dropped me off at a nearby Husky station to wait for my husband. On our way to the tow truck yard, I told the hubby I'd point out where the car had taken it's final breath, only to find it and the tow truck still there. As we pulled up, another tow truck arrived, rushing to the driver's side of the first. As the ambulance arrived, we were told the poor driver had been clipped by a passing vehicle's side mirror while hooking up our car! And the dude that hit him drove off! And no one stopped to help him!
Sure enough, the same constable showed up ( I waved, stupidly) and eventually we were okay to go.
On our way home, I noticed it was only 10:02am. Felt like it had been a hellish day already.
Honestly, I'm still a bit rattled. And I'm not sure why. I'm perfectly all right, my kids weren't with me, and I got everything out of the car without incident. Despite losing my only set of wheels, it could have been a lot worse. It made me realize my existence is small. This minor event spun me into repeated bouts of anxiety, and I can't imagine living every day with this kind of craziness. I totally get the line in that film now. Small. Really small. But valuable.
Just want to send a few truly grateful thanks into the void: to the gentleman with the extinguisher, I can't thank you enough-you truly saved the day. To the guy who let me warm up in his SUV, (Ryan-from edmonton-but-works-in-Spruce) thanks for your act of kindness. To the firefighters who were totally patient with my panic attack and shock, and to the Constable who waited with me and dropped me off, and didn't make me feel stupid when I had a full-blown panc attack, thanks will never be enough for all you do everyday. To the poor tow truck driver who had to go to the hospital for doing his job, thank you so much, and I am so very sorry that the world is full of people like whoever hit you. (But don't worry, karma will win in the end:)
I appreciate my small life sooo much more now. I will take my quiet existence over a loud, dramatic one any day.