A cold, rainy day made its introduction by pounding upon the slightly cracked windshield of my mom’s Ford Explorer. Every drop increased in urgency as we slowly progressed into the heart of the storm, gentle “plop, plop, plop’s” eventually progressing to relentless banging, as if they were overwhelmed by impatience. I began to wince with each thump, it seemed as if each drop was fighting for entrance in the inviting vacancy provided by a slim crevice on the surface of the glass, a haunting scar left from a previous accident. I came to the realization that we were basically driving underwater. The smallest movement of the wheel coincided with a dispersed jet of water sloshing against the outside of my door. I lost a sense of where we even were, every glance outside my window was greeted with a soupy amalgamation of colors and outlines, an intimidating surprise provided by the distorted mirrors streaming down the pane. The ambiance had drowned out any internal sounds the car could provide, my favorite Miles Davis tracks sadly met their defeat at the hands of the deafening onslaught. The tires rumbling away on the highway beneath began to induce fear within me, as my mind darted to horrific images of demolition that followed short after a seemingly minute hydroplane. I glanced ahead through the nearly opaque front windshield to project my concerns upon my father, who was driving about 10 yards ahead of my mother and siblings. Every lane change he executed elicited an anxiety-ridden flinch, every surge he used to brush past a nearby car sent cold chills rippling down my spine, ending with a fizz in my fingertips. My worry persisted, even with the realization that he had been an experience driver for longer than I can remember. At that moment, my brain jolted back to the streams of grainy videos and images I had been exposed to during unending hours of driver’s education.
A car cut into the screen, an archaically designed Ford, crawling gracefully down a neighborhood road. From the quality and mediocre color schemes I could easily assess that the film was produced in the early 90s, far beyond my era. The monotone voice of a distanced narrator cut into the scene, apathetically alerting the viewer of the moisture that could turn a harmless street into a highway to death, a seemingly benign surface into a weapon of mass destruction. The driver, ironically, did not heed the narrators warning, and slipped off the railway, tumbling into a nearby ditch where flames and smoke from a ruptured engine soon consumed all that was living inside. Though screams and gore were absent from the clip, my mind filled such a vacancy with its own terrorizing depictions – decapitated heads, impaled children, cracked skulls, missing arms and legs, shards of metal and glass feeding upon open flesh. The scene closed, followed by a casual quiz as if nothing gut-wrenching had just occurred. From that moment, my studies evolved into an obsession – an unending compulsion to soothe my fears and worries. I had to know every turning angle, every wheel maneuver, and especially, every emergency weather scenario, so I could be the most prepared individual on the face of the earth. So I could personally wage war upon the uncertainty that plagued the roads.
Sadly, the very uncertainty I was training to destroy overcame my father, leaping from the shadows of the unknown onto the vehicle in front of me. His car. A splurge of water exited from behind his vehicle, leaving the body of the car weaving helplessly back and forth as control faded away to the brute forces of mother nature. I tried my chances of telepathy, reciting mantras that had been hammered into my head over the past six months– “Don’t jerk the wheel.” “Stay relaxed”. Ironically, I was unheard. My dad’s car flailed into the other lane momentarily before finally veering off the highway into the stone median that separated us from the other side. His vehicle lept into the wall, his bumper committed suicide, his side doors and windows crunched under the pressure of an unexpected impact. We called an ambulance as speech failed to leave my throat.
Insurance provided me with a glimpse of hope in such a melancholic event. After my father left the event untouched, our company of choice immediately rushed to our assistance, providing a deluge of replacement cars and reimbursements for the damages that we had received. Insurance provided me and my family with a safety net, an omnipresent force that was always there to ensure that we were protected and adequately taken care of at all times. Insurance provided us with empathy and concern in a time of unfathomable despair, given by sincere employees dedicated to the well-being of each and every one of their clients. But, most of all, Insurance gave us a second chance, an opportunity for a fresh start, when my father’s safety was on the line.
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