Four years ago today, my life changed. It was a Friday and I had the day off from work, which is pretty much a recipe for having an amazing day. Unfortunately, I spent the day holed up in my place doing schoolwork. Around 1pm, I decided I was going to go run some errands. Namely, I wanted to see about joining a gym (I had put on a few pounds and wanted to get rid of them... I had no idea how much worse it could get).
I walked out to my car and saw that I had a flat tire. I called BCAA; the nice mechanic came, switched over my spare tire and informed me that the tire was not repairable. I was devastated. I bought the car exactly two weeks earlier and had sunk literally all my money and then some into the purchase.
I ran a few errands on the pizza-cutter and went home to do some tire research. When I was leaving my house for the second time, I noticed that my car had been keyed while I was running errands. Fuck. Me. I went to my local reputable tire shop and had new tires put on (in record time, I might add).
I drove home, called my best friend and complained to her about the shit day I had so far. She suggested I drink. I told her I didn't have any booze and I'd spent all my extra money on tires so I couldn't even afford to buy any. She told me she had a few bottles and that I should come over and help drink them. I'll be right there! I hopped into my car and started driving over. She lived about 20 minutes away by freeway. I'd be drunk in no time.
It was about 6pm on a Friday night, so the freeway was busy, but not slow-to-a-crawl busy. I was in the right lane behind someone that was going unnecessarily slow (~75km/h). The centre lane was going about 35 km/h faster than I was; I wanted to pass the guy in front of me.
Again, the car was new to me, so I didn't know it's capabilities; I wanted to be sure that I would have enough time to get out from behind the slow poke and get up to speed without slowing down the cars in the centre lane. I didn't want to cause an accident, after all. As a result, I had to wait until the centre lane was clear before I was willing to make the lane change.
I got my opportunity; I switched lanes and started accelerating, watching my rearview for the car that was inevitably catching up to me. I got up to speed and passed the slow dude. That's about the time I noticed the noise. It wasn't anything in particular, just kind of a loud, humming that wasn't there moments before. I decided I needed to get back into the right lane. As I was making my second lane change, I noticed my steering wheel was shaking back and forth, fairly violently. Shit. Something is wrong and I need to get off the freeway NOW.
I had already passed a sign indicating that I was 600m away from the next exit (the first exit I had encountered on this trip) - I was so close that I could see it. I started slowing down and tried to reach the exit.
Next thing I know.... BAM!
Loudest fucking noise ever!! My car pulled to the left. Left... where cars were driving 110km/h. Left... where two lanes of cars were driving 110km/h and then the giant cement meridian. I didn't want to go left. I steered right. With purpose.
Next thing I know, there are headlights in my face.
I'd done about a 160 degree turn and was travelling backwards down the freeway. I remember thinking "Please don't hit anything, please don't hit anything". I turned around in my seat to see if I was going to hit one of those speed limit signs. My trajectory was clear; I turned forward and waited.
Second loudest noise ever!! I was flung into the driver's side door. Simultaneously, my backpack, which was in the passenger seat, was also flung about. It knocked me in the head, which knocked my head into the driver's side window. I was slowing down, all the while thinking "Please don't roll, please don't roll".
I came to a stop. I needed to get out of the car, like right fucking now. I got out of the car and was hit with the scent of moist dirt. I was on a grassy patch just off the freeway. Just off the freeway exit, actually.
I walked away from the car. I started taking in my surroundings. I noticed this trench dug through the grass. The trench was leading up to my car. This is what I saw:
My tire wasn't originally in this location. Don't get my wrong. It used to be attached to the car, I just mean that it was found about 50m down the freeway. A nice gentleman retrieved it for me and brought it closer to the scene. So when I turned around, all I saw was my braking system. Where the fuck is my tire!??! So, I was driving down the freeway, backwards, going 90km/h on three wheels and my braking system. Not desirable.
In the top left hand corner of the picture, you can see another car's tire. And a curb. That is what I hit. That is what ripped off my front bumper. Guess what I hit the curb with?
That's right. My rear driver's side tire. The same gentleman that retrieved my tire also informed me that I had snapped my rear axle. When I said "Really?!?!", he kinda looked at me funny and said "Look at your back tire... does that look right to you?". He said that he didn't want to be the bearer of bad news, but "it looks like you wrote your car off, darling". I was upset.
I told him I bought the car two weeks ago and I just had new tires put on. He questioned if the tires were put on at the dealership when I bought it. I told him I had them put on not even two hours earlier. It was his turn to say "Really?!?!". And then he asked where I went... not sure if I should divulge that information on here or not, so let's just say it's a major tire company.
A major tire company.
Eventually, the firemen showed up. When I was talking with one of them, another one came up and said he had to show me something. As we were walking over to the car, he kept stressing how important this information was. He knew that I was in shock, but he really wanted me to retain the conversation.
Fireman: See those bolts?
Fireman: Do you see how those bolts are threaded?
Me: Yeah... (...I've seen bolts before...)
Fireman: If you were driving crazy and did something to cause your tire to fall off, those bolts would be mangled. The force needed for the tire to come off would have caused the lug nuts to sheer off the bolts, or at least, the threading of the bolts. Understand?
Fireman: Your bolts are not damaged. If your tire wasn't blown and if we could find your lug nuts, theoretically, we could put this tire back on and have you on your way. Do you know what this means?
Fireman: Your lug nuts weren't tightened.
So, I wrecked my car, I wrecked my back, my neck and my knee. My knee hit the window roller; my doctor said that if I hit it an inch higher or an inch lower I would have had no issues. The spot I hit was the sweet spot - the IT band; it's a muscle that runs from your hip to your ankle.
I entered physio and a rehab program that took years to complete. Due to pain and limited mobility, I stopped cooking and moving. Not a good combination. I gained 40lbs in a 4 month period, which everyone was shocked to learn, because "I didn't look like I'd gained weight". Are you kidding me?!
When I told my brother, he said that he was told the same thing (he was in an accident two months earlier and had also put on weight). His take on it was "Great... so I was so fucking fat before that you don't notice when I put on 40lbs?!?!" And I thought I needed the gym before.
Recently, I woke up to go to work and came out to a flat tire; I cursed and walked to the bus stop. Everyone at work asked why I came in so late, most were satisfied with "flat tire this morning". One person was a bit more nosy.
Her: So... you were late because you were changing your tire?
Me: Fuck, no! I was late because I took the bus. I'll call BCAA on my way home and they can change the tire for me.
Her: Ha ha. That's what I would do too... If I had to change my own tire it would probably come off when I was driving down the freeway! Ha ha ha ha ha ha...
I just kinda looked at her. When I didn't say anything (what do you say?!), she looked over at me.
Me: I'm just trying to figure out if you are trying to be funny or not...
Her: No... why?!!?
And then it hit her "Oh my god... that's exactly what happened to you, isn't it?!?! I didn't mean it... I wasn't even thinking... I'm sorry!! Oh, god, I'm such an asshole!!". Yes, you are, Linds; yes, you are.