Thursday, April 4, 2013

In Which I Was Young and Stupid

Back in 2003, shortly before I graduated from College, I worked for a little radio station in my town. It doesn't even exist anymore, sadly, and the pretty building that once housed it (along with a tiny tot dance studio and, oddly enough, a possibly drug-addled, decidedly difficult, eventually evicted apartment tenant) is now a preschool. I only mention all of that to give you an idea of how teeny this station was. Because it was so small, those of us who worked there grew to be fairly tight-knit. One co-worker ended up a bridesmaid in my wedding, if that gives you any idea. So, when one of us had the opportunity to move on to bigger and better, we were all thrilled for him, but sad to see him go. A going away party was definitely in order. Problem was, I had a class during the party, and a play rehearsal immediately after class. Scheduling was going to be a bit tight.

My plan (and we all know what they say about plans) was to go to class first. It was a performance class, so I could volunteer to sing first, and slip out the back once I was finished. Then, I could high-tail it over to the party, make an appearance, and head on to rehearsal. Now, ten years wiser, I look back and realize that, obviously, I should have just skipped the party and given the guy a nice card, instead. I also could have just called the teacher and begged off class, since I was mere days from graduating and had had perfect attendance up to that point. It wouldn't have been a big deal. At the time, though, it seemed dire that I be at everything, all at one time. What can I say? I was young and stupid.

So, the evening of the party, I hopped in my Skylark (oh, yes, I had one of those. Got the recall notice about the spontaneously combusting steering column, and everything) and set forth to class. I took the shortest route possible, and was doing pretty well until I caught a red light about a block from the University. I sat there, and sat there, and sat there, and looked at my watch, and sat there, and WHAM!!!!

My air-conditioner and radio landed in my passenger seat, and I jolted forward so quickly that I, truly, didn't know what hit me. My Skylark rammed forward through the red light, and came to rest at an angle, facing the oncoming traffic. Thank God there wasn't any.

The pick-up truck that sent me careening down the street had tried to stop for the light, but its brakes had failed. The poor driver was just as terrified and shocked as I was. Legally, it was his fault, but really, it was just a horrible, scary accident. We waited for the police, filled out paperwork, and thanked our lucky stars that no one was hurt and the cars were driveable. The officer on scene did ask if I needed to see a doctor, but I felt fine. Anyway, I had stuff to do. I couldn't bother with the emergency room.

I hopped back in my car, make a quick call to the school to explain what had happened (class had long since started), and drove straight to the going away party, already in progress. I stayed about five minutes, maybe. I don't think I even went into the building. My co-workers were shocked that I had come, and wondered why I hadn't gone straight to the doctor. After all, if the collision had caused my front console to eject, what had it done to my body? But I felt fine. Anyway, I had to go to rehearsal. I couldn't bother with a doctor.

Onward to the theatre! By the time I arrived, about an hour had passed since the wreck, but I felt fine. I was ready to sing and dance! Of course, that was before my little boyfriend at the time ("little boyfriend"...we were both 22 years-old. Little, my foot. I'm just Southern, and that's how we talk down here) took one look at me and wanted to know what the heck had happened. Apparently, I was walking a little funny and acting loopy as all get-out. The boyfriend also worked at a car audio place, so when he saw the radio, et al, sitting in the front seat, he had a pretty good idea how hard I'd been hit. Next thing you know, he'd told the (very understanding) director that there was no way I was going to be able rehearse, and I was loaded up in the car and taken home. I remember getting to the theatre and him seeing the car. I only know the rest because I was told. I still did not see a doctor. I was just in shock. I felt fine.

A few days later, I couldn't turn my head. I finally saw a doctor, and learned that I had a mild case of whiplash. Nothing serious. It should clear itself up with stretching and some IcyHot. My voice teacher urged me to get a brace, just to make sure everything healed correctly, but I was young, it didn't hurt that badly, and I was afraid I'd look ridiculous.

I should have listened.

Ten years later, I'm sitting here with Tiger Balm on my neck. I have a neck massager at home that gets a real workout, and a special, freakishly expensive bed pillow that's designed for neck issues. The flare-ups are few and far-between, but when they happen, they happen. It's not fun. I don't enjoy it. This go-round was caused by a combination of several factors, including stress (unavoidable) and strain (I did crunches and push-ups. Heaven forbid...). It's getting better, but it's, pardon the expression, a real pain in the neck.

So, my point, and do I have one? My little brother just got his learner's permit. Several of his friends have either gotten theirs, too, or are planning to over the next few months. Not only that, it's Spring Break, and a lot of kiddos are going on road trips. Depending on how you look at it, this accident was both completely unavoidable, and completely avoidable.

The wreck was unavoidable because the truck's brakes failed. I was simply sitting at a red light. There honestly wasn't anything anyone could have done at that moment. However, regular maintenance and keeping an eye on service lights should have detected the problem long before the brakes finally gave way. As for the whiplash and subsequent years of discomfort...I should have seen a doctor. Not one of those activities was worth this much trouble, and it's not like I got to do any of them anyway. If you're in an accident and given the option of seeing a doctor, see them. If you are given expert advice from a professional that you know and trust, it's probably best to take it. I let my stubborness and my pride get in the way, and I'm paying for it now.

So, kids, before you get on the road, please make sure that your vehicle is in proper working order. If you do get into an accident, get checked out--even if you have a million things to do and feel perfectly fine. You may not know how not fine you actually are.

Wow. That was not the post I intended to write. This was supposed to be about Tiger Balm, and how awesome it is on sore muscles, and how nice it smells., yeah. All that, too.

Just use your brains and stay safe, kids. Have a fantastic Spring Break, and congrats on the Rite of Passage.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Add your own ramblings, musings, or existential ponderings here--just keep it clean and keep it kind.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...