I Didn’t Google The Woman Who Hit Me With Her Car

I live in one of those suburbs that used to be farmland fifteen years ago but now any stretch of undeveloped land is doomed to become rows of track homes. The population is vastly white (89%) with the largest minority group being Asian (9%).* It’s a community of upper middle class families working hard to provide a good life for their children. It’s also extremely conservative. So what determines a “good life” here sometimes isn’t in line with my own beliefs. I wouldn’t call myself a liberal. I’m a two party system hater. But I also know I need to play the game that is in play despite hating it. During election seasons, the far right yard signs go up and can be half the size of my house. The queasiness in my stomach gets stuck in my throat. “This is where I live,” I think. This is where my children will learn who they are. I admit that I’m on edge. In addition to my beliefs on what makes a good life often not being in line with the majority, my physical features are distinctly classified as “other” here. While my children are able to “pass” for white, I fear what they will meet when their peers or their peers’ parents discover that their Mama is brown. Often, I fear my children will lean into these people and learn to hate me too. 

I still work in the nearby liberal city some weekend nights. I’ve lived in cities on both coasts and here in the middle. I know city driving. I’m not a fan. I’m extra alert of the driver who needs to ride the shoulder to get around you and the one that rides so close to my bumper that I can see what’s in their trunk. I avoid certain areas at night because of driving I have experienced there previously. When I make it to the country roads that separate the city and my suburban home, my awareness shifts. The drivers obey the rules of the road more regularly here. I’m more afraid of a deer darting into the road and smashing into me than another human in a 3,000lb steel cannon. 

My awareness had just shifted into country road mode one of those nights on my way home from city work. I was stopped at a red light when I heard a high pitched squeal behind me. It resembled the toy trumpet my daughter got at the State Fair that made you want to dig your eardrums out. Immediately following the squeal came the crash. I vomited a scream and bit my lip. The movies do a really good job of recreating the sound of cars crashing. I’m now convinced that they crash actual cars just to get the audio because it’s so accurate. So yeah, I was rear ended. Although the taste of metal in my mouth summoned a fear that blood was present, none could be found. My swollen lip would later let on that the metal taste had come from it. 

I took my phone off the magnet on the dash and called my husband. 

“Are you ok?”

“I think so.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. I think.”

I exited the car to meet the person who used their ton of steel to smash into mine. She was fanatically apologetic and listing off all the thoughts she could have had that prevented her from stopping appropriately. My first thoughts were that I was thankful that she stopped. I was thankful that she was a woman. I was thankful that she wasn’t trying to place blame on me. She was white. So I was also thankful that I had straightened my hair that week because it increased my proximity to her whiteness. I was less of a threat to this white woman in the dark. 

She offered to call the police. She did. An officer arrived. We handed over our IDs, he ran our plates, and provided information for filing an accident report. She offered to have her motorcycle mechanic husband look at my car bumper, which was hanging off on one side a little and the other side a lot. I barely had enough energy to schedule an oil change let alone get estimates at auto body shops. The horror stories of friends having to wait months for parts for their cars because of pandemic delays raced in my head. I agreed to drive up to the nearest gas station to meet her husband. 

I pulled up to the driver at the station waiting outside her car alongside a thin white man with long hair and tattoos. I recalled that she said he was a motorcycle mechanic. My mind’s rolodex flipped through images of white nationalist motorcycle gangs. I reminded myself that we were in a space with cameras, that the police had her information, and that if this turned into a hate crime there would be evidence. (Right?) I held onto hope and my breath that when I appeared from the darkness of my car that my skin would be light enough to earn his kindness. 

“We’re so sorry. Let me see if I can help,” her husband said. 

I exhaled. 

He jiggled and pushed and pulled and squeezed but wasn’t able to fix my bumper. They invited me to bring the car by their house the next day to where he had tools that he was sure would solve the problem. I agreed.

Normally after  meeting someone new in my neighborhood I take the first opportunity I can to discover what the internet can tell me about them. I want to know that I am safe. I want to know if I can drop my guard or if I need to reinforce it. After several text exchanges with the woman driver, I decided not to look her up. I was afraid of what I was going to find. She and her husband were being so kind and gracious to me. I was afraid I would see the internet version of them – the version we don’t have the confidence to be in person – and my view of them would be tainted.

 I didn’t end up taking my car to their home either. One of my family members in the auto business advised that it would be best to take it to a recommended auto body shop. I did and the car looks better than new now. It took over a month to fix but I didn’t have to argue with anyone that I deserved to be made whole at their expense. 

A day or two after the accident, I was driving in our neighborhood in our other vehicle. Walking on the sidewalk was the woman who hit me, her husband, their daughter, and their dog. My stomach tightened as I thought of what kind of people they might be. I watched their wide smiles and their dog’s tail wagging. They didn’t even look like they had a wrecked car back at home (her car was way worse than mine). I then decided that I didn’t need to know who they might be. I could trust in who they showed me they were. 

Getting hit taught me a lesson. Sometimes you drive a car and lose control. It doesn’t mean you have to lose yourself. I’ve been losing control into people all over my community and losing myself in the process. Some people are going to be the worst version of themselves when our paths cross. Some will treat me like I want to be treated. Some will even teach me a thing or two. Because of that, I’m still here and eager to return the favor. 

*data used from https://worldpopulationreview.com/

4 responses to “I Didn’t Google The Woman Who Hit Me With Her Car”

  1. You do such an amazing job of letting us feel what you felt… can’t wait to read more

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a beautifully nuanced text. You’re an amazing writer. I’m so glad we met online.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Alissa Richardson Avatar
    Alissa Richardson

    Hate you had an accident
    Happy you’re ok
    Love seeing the world through your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

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