Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Crash into You.

So I got back to the city from another round in the 50th-ranked state in the Union for tourism, and boy, was I tired. My legal father hijacked my cancer-ridden grandfather to prevent him from seeing me; I only know my biological father well enough to talk about baseball and Italian beef sandwiches; Kansas is, well, Kansas, and ironically enough I've always been allergic to sunflowers so I was hacking and sneezing through most of the trip. By the time C. and I got back, all I wanted to do was go to bed, and spend a few hours crabbing on the docks off Fire Island in the morning.

I was dreaming that I was on the bridge to Fire Island and couldn't see the end of it until I realized that there wasn't an end to it. I was holding onto some railing as my car plummeted when the alarm clock woke me at 3:30AM.

Throwing my bucket, traps, and chicken legs in my Honda Civic, I made my way down the road to Dunkin Donuts for coffee and donuts, and continued onto the Long Island Expressway. It was drizzly with periodic outbreaks of actual rain - I hadn't been crabbing in the rain yet, and I figured at least there wouldn't be any other crabbers on the docks to disrupt my solitude.

I exited onto the Cross Island for a few miles, then onto the Southern State. The yellow lights were flashing on the 25 MPH sign, and it's a pretty tight curve, one of the clover-type exits they have so much of back in Kansas, so I started to slow down. I turned the steering wheel a bit to lean into the curve, and the car continued going straight. I remembered Mr. Gilliland in Driver's Ed talking about cars hydroplaning when there's only a film of water on a driving surface, and pressed on the brakes to slow it down and get things in order. The car just slid, first forward, then sideways, into the wall and/or guardrail (it was dark and I can't remember, even in slow-mo). I heard one of those sound effect-type crash sounds - hard thump, shattering glass, and silence. It was still between 4:00 and 4:30 so the silence was especially loud. But not so loud as to block the realization that my car was blocking a limited-visibility curve, and the driver's side door was the only thing between me and an unsuspecting manslaughter - I put my hazards on, backed up as quickly as I could while dragging my front bumper, shifted into drive, and got off the exit onto the Southern State.

I pulled off the shoulder to dial 911 and ran over my bumper. After getting out putting it in the backseat, I explained my situation and waited for the state troopers and Nassau County precinct to decide what to do with me. I heard a whistle from the sidestreet, then a "Hey! Mister!"

A shadow was motioning through the mist at me. "Hey, you hit the wall back there?"

I hung up on the indecisive emergency rescue unit, and called back to the figure, "Yeah."

"Happens alla time." The guy walked down to me. "You gotta get off dat tru-way, man," he said with a slight island accent, "One guy got a contract on da 'ole stretch, cost you tree time as much as if you get off dat nex' exit."

"What do I do when I get off the exit then?" I asked.

"I got a freind, good guy. He give you a ride. I meet you up off de exit."

I waited for him to go back to his car, got back in my car, and followed him off the next exit.

"I gonna call my frien' now," he said, pulling his cell phone out of his pocket. "You lucky I foun' you. It supposed to be illegal to help somebody onna tru-way, guess they afraid people try to take advantage of a situation, say like, 'Oh, I can fix dat f'you,' you know?"

While he talked to his friend, I surveyed the damage. My beloved car's front end looked like a Transformer mid-transformation.

"Where you goin' dis time a' night?"

"Is was just going crabbing," I replied.

"Oh yeah? Where?"

"Out near Fire Island."

"Dat so? I use to go fishin' out there, right by Captree State Park."

My face lit up in the morning dark. "That's where I was going!"

"Now I go out Magnolia Pier, off Long Beach. It got lots more fish. The tide bring 'em in."

"Where you on your way out there?"

"Nah," he said, looking tired all of a sudden. "I work at the hospital down a way, late shif'. Onna way home. I be out there later inna week though."

We talked for another half-hour while waiting for his friend with the flatbed to pick me up, and I didn't once wonder if it was strange to trust this guy more than the state police.

So the rest of my day after getting home has been spent haggling with Geico, which, truth be told, wasn't that hard really. They're paying for everything except my $500 deductible (so that's what I worked those extra hours teaching at CLIP this month for), and my car waits sadly outside my window for the adjuster to get it back in shape.

Next week, I'm trying out Magnolia Pier.