Vogon usually doesn't like to go out during rush hour, but it was pushing 1900 when we left. The restaurant is a few blocks away and there was nothing out of the ordinary when we got to the turn lane to turn across oncoming lanes into their parking lot. There was an SUV sitting in the turn lane facing us to turn into the entrance of an apartment complex across the street from Popeye's. We didn't have a protected turn lane like theirs and the stoplight half a block up was red, so Vogon turned across the oncoming lanes. There was a car squarely in the blind spot created by the SUV. I *sensed* Vogon flooring the accelerator, but the air conditioner (the high today was 95, with the heat index topped out at 104 mid-afternoon) sucks horsepower so we couldn't clear the car.
The car struck us in the right rear quarter panel and we either pulled a 360 or fishtailed as he tried to correct our course -- I don't know because the impact knocked my glasses off. I remember seeing my watch but not being able to read it. As soon as I could refocus my eyes (probably a few seconds later), I pulled my cell phone out of my purse and dialed 911. I remember marveling at the display saying "dialing emergency response number" instead of "dialing [phone book entry name or phone number if not a phone book entry]". I don't remember the dispatcher saying her name, which I expected, but she sounded just like Dee, our across-the-street neighbor when we lived in Blackstone. I remember my head feeling like it'd been shaken and stuttering trying to make myself focus enough to tell the dispatcher that there'd been a car accident, where we were, that no-one was hurt (while I was dialing, Vogon either got out and talked to the people in the other car or they got out -- I heard an unfamilar voice saying "no one's hurt!"), but our car wouldn't start and we were blocking a lane of traffic. The dispatcher told me that there was an officer on the way and thank you for calling, I could hang up now. My cell phone says I made the phone call at 1839 with a duration of 1m38s.
I remember Vogon telling me to get out of the car, to get Laurel out and sit on the grass above the sidewalk. I still hadn't found my glasses, feeling around the floor and between my seat and the center console. When I turned around to unbuckle Laurel, my sunglasses were sitting on the back seat next to her seat buckle. Shaky, possibly shocky, still seeing slightly double, my primitive brain still immediately opened my bag and pulled out the camera. Vogon must have gotten Laurel out while I went through the motions -- overall shot, close shot head-on, from the left, from the right, macro shots.
I put my bag down on the grass and gave Laurel a mint as I thought I should give Vogon something with sugar because his blood sugar must be low (hypoglycemia). Vogon and the other driver exchanged information. She was wearing a name tag that made me think she worked in a store (he said later it was a bank). Laurel asked for dried cranberries, so I found them in my purse and gave her the whole snack-size ziplock bag. Vogon handed me some folded cash and told me to take Laurel inside and buy dinner. It occurred to me to take pictures of her car as well, but I don't like approaching and talking to people I don't know so I watched Laurel. At one point we popped inside to ask if they had a phone book since the number for the shop Vogon usually has work done on his car at was in his phone (and not mine), which he left at home. I sat on the grass next to Laurel and did my best to keep her on the grass and off the sidewalk.
We waited outside until the officer arrived and went inside because Vogon's look said we should, but I couldn't decide what to order so we waited until he came in a few minutes later. After getting our food, I still wasn't hungry since I couldn't see as clearly as I'm used to so I mostly looked out the window while we waited for the tow truck. At one point, Vogon said he could think of a lot better ways to get a hundred dollar evening meal -- hence the entry title.
When the tow truck finally arrived, Vogon went out to talk to the driver while I packed up our leftovers and topped off Laurel's and my drinks. We sat on the grass on the opposite side of the driveway entrance from where we'd been before and Laurel played with her kiddie meal toy, alternately quacking and clucking. (I initially misidentified the figure as a duck, but it was a chicken in a skirted swimsuit.)
As the car was pulled up onto the flatbed, the police officer asked me if there was anyone we could call for a ride home. I told him I didn't know and asked Vogon when he returned from giving information to the tow truck driver. The only friend of his whose phone number I have (in my phone or Palm) is a coworker that lives up in Little Elm, which is a good drive from north Dallas, especially when we were barely five blocks from home. The officer said he could give us a ride home and as we got into the car, told Vogon his license was suspended. In response to his surprise (the accident wasn't either driver's fault, they simply couldn't see each other until it was too late), the officer said something about an SR-22 fee, that he could have lost his license if he'd been pulled over and had his license run, adding that he'd see what he could do to give him more information on it.
It was very strange riding home in a police car, especially with Laurel just in a shoulder belt between Vogon and I. I was fascinated by the LCD display on the center console in front, which appeared to be running 32-bit ZTerm for Windows. (I tried not to stare.) He dropped us off out front and we walked up from there, getting home just after 2010.
The situation leave Vogon walking to/from work until the car's repaired; luckily he's only a mile and a half from his workplace thanks to his adage that living more than a five-minute drive from work is a waste of fuel. It'll probably also mean he won't be coming home for lunch for awhile, which is a downer for both of us -- he likes to come home and see me, I like going anywhere with him. (I have that zen of dog thing where I don't care whether we're going to Panama or around the block, it's fun to ride in the car.)
The other downside of the situation is that it's more fodder for my nightmares. The major non-monetary reason I stopped driving after I stopped working (I know stay-at-home parenting is a full-time job, but it's not "working" to me since I draw neither pay nor health benefits) is because I'm so anxious behind the wheel it's not worth it for me. I have a constant fear that since I'm short, I won't be able to see oncoming vehicles when I have to turn across traffic. I catch my breath every time we come home from the west because we turn across traffic, albeit on a lightly-traveled road (esp. in comparison to the road when we approach from the east!) with a fairly clear view of oncoming traffic and a traffic light a half block uphill from the turn. Tonight my fear of what I can't see when we turn across traffic happened and although nobody's hurt (Vogon's car sustained light damage to the rear quarter panel, bumper and I think the fuel cutoff tripped since the impact was just below and toward the front of the car from the fuel door; the other car has a slightly crinkled hood and possibly some other front-end damage), I don't know if I'll be able to fall asleep tonight without a melatonin or other chemical aid because I don't want to wake up with nightmares. It'll probably be awhile before I want to ride in anyone's car again too, although that's not as big of a problem since there's so much within walking distance here and the flight to Colorado is on the 25th.
I'm going to upload the June 2004 photos and a few other updated files to oddharmonic.org since I got them done today and then try to sleep. Vogon asked me earlier if I wanted to watch Brother Bear (which we rented on Friday), but my shaky "no" brought him out of the study long enough to tell me that everything was okay because we were in a safe car that he knows how to handle. Intellectually I know he's right, but I'm still shaking and can't feel like I can concentrate long enough to watch a movie. I'm sorry.