The Golden Rule & A Lesson Learned

The sickening sound of crunching metal and breaking glass was deafening, sending David and I into a minor shock as our brand new Mazda 3 went spinning at a ninety-degree angle before coming to a complete stop in the middle of Ocean Avenue’s three-lane traffic.  Sitting in the passenger seat, I had already braced myself for the impending impact by hanging on tightly to the handle of the roof’s interior as I saw the Taxi SUV coming.  Unfortunately, David had not seen it coming when he went to make a U-turn.

It was the night before our cross-country move to Los Angeles.  We had just picked up our brand new car in the Bronx, at David’s sister’s house, where we had parked it the last couple of weeks after purchasing it.  With merely sixty miles on its odometer, we drove up our street in Brooklyn.  We both excitedly saw a parking spot directly in front of our building, though on the opposite side of the street where we were currently driving.  This parking spot would allow us to efficiently pack the vehicle in preparation for leaving early in the morning.  Instead of driving further and legally finding a space to turn around, we did what every other New Yorker did when spying a parking spot, or more accurately known as a needle in a haystack, especially on this particular stretch of Ocean Avenue where one side of the street is occupied by Prospect Park.  We knew parking spots were coveted rarities and we weren’t about to take our chances at possibly losing it to another hasty scavenger.

Smoke immediately followed the collision that the driver’s side had experienced the brunt of.  As the shock quickly wore off, I grabbed David’s leg in grave worry and I think we both asked in unison, “Are you alright?”  From what I could see in the street lamps’ glow, David’s door was completely caved in and I was covered in tiny pieces of glass that looked like Walter White’s blue meth, clearly from the driver’s side window that was now nonexistent.  I did not see any blood so that was a good sign, I thought to myself but I was concerned about David’s head as I shockingly witnessed it slam against the window before the passenger side airbag deployed and the glass shattered.  I was equally as concerned for his left leg that was closest to the mangled bulk of metal that was once a car door.

I saw an opening where we could get our car out of the way of continuing traffic that had built up due to rubberneckers, as I like to label them.  I exited the vehicle and David had to crawl out of my side, as the driver’s side door would no longer open.  The solemn look upon David’s face made my heart sink.  I embraced him as I could accurately assume the number of self deprecating things that were going through his mind – one being that we were not leaving New York City any time soon and he was harshly blaming himself.

I pulled out my cell to call Progressive and I was beyond grateful that not a single person was injured in the wreck, especially David.  The taxi driver was fine, as well as his passenger, who got out of the vehicle to walk the rest of his commute home.  He made certain we were fine, expressing his sorry.  It clearly wasn’t his fault, however, and while faults were not my main concern that night, they were definitely David’s.  I did my best to assure him that “shit happens” and yes, you were making an illegal U-turn but the taxi driver was speeding.

From the time of the crash to the time our car was towed and we made our way up to our apartment, David was seemingly in a perpetual state of equal parts shock and misery.  I felt awful for him and was doing everything in my power to try and make him feel better, to snap him out of it.  Yes, the situation appeared sort of hopeless from the outside but I knew we’d make it to Los Angeles one way or another.  I spent the rest of that night consoling him in any way I could think of, including a massage.  His despair was placing me in my own inner state of gloom but I remained positive, constantly pointing out that the most important thing was that nobody got hurt.  I accurately emphasized, “It could have been worse.”  I also made the necessary phone calls to friends and family who were expecting our arrival and did my best to ensure them, too, that we were fine.

Thankfully, we had some time left on our apartment lease so we had a roof over our heads.  We spent the next few days brainstorming, wandering around Brooklyn cafés, obtaining a copy of the police report about our crash and postponing job interviews.  The New York skies were a permanent mass of gray and white clouds making the winter temperatures feel several degrees colder and the hopelessness appear that much more dismal.  After over $12,000 in damages, the Mazda would not be repaired in time for our necessary departure, we couldn’t stay with anyone as we had two furry companions and funds were running low, as this entire trip had been budgeted on a timeline.

It was our last night, as dictated in our signed lease, in our 5th floor apartment that overlooked the beautiful, expansive Prospect Park.  We were enjoying a midday meal at our favorite weekend brunching locale, Cubana Café.  David was on the phone with our Progressive representative when it dawned on us that the insurance company would provide us with a rental, covering the majority of the costs, while our vehicle was in the shop.  Fortunately enough, they would even cover a cross-country one-way trip in which we would only be billed for a portion of.  After finishing our dinner, we took the subway to downtown Brooklyn where we rented our Nissan that would drive us across the country last February.

It wasn’t until getting into the passenger seat of the rental and commuting the short way back to our apartment that I realized this trip was not going to be done without a little thing called, post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition I had only experienced one other time in my life after learning of my dad’s terminal diagnosis.  Driving through thick down pour in Pennsylvania, freezing temperatures in Ohio and heavy snowfall in Arizona did not aide in easing any of my PTSD either.  Just the sight of an ominous, dark cloud sent my insides into a raging panic.  I found myself, in tears, after passing a sign at almost seventy miles per hour that recommended all vehicles have chains on their tires if planning to proceed.  We did not have chains on our tires nor access to any – David insisted that we would be fine.  We were, but the added anxiety caused multiple fights with David that led to our not speaking to one another for miles down the forty highway of the American southwest.

As I recollect, my decision to end my marriage is solidified yet again.  Not that I ever need justification, however, if you’ve ever had to make a decision that you didn’t want to make, you understand the need for reassurance every now and then.  I recall how patient and comforting I was through the accident and how impatient David was through my own worry and fear.  I even recall apologizing for my occasional hysterics just to ease some of the tension between us, fool heartedly believing that I was overreacting and causing the conflict.  David’s justification was always, “You think you’re the only one who’s scared here?  I’m the one driving!”  I wonder how he would have felt if I had angrily asked him after the accident, “Do you think you were the only one in the car at the time of the crash?”

My mother always reiterated the “golden rule” to my brother and I as we grew up: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and I guess I naively believed that this dignified rule governed all parties involved in any given scenario.  Unfortunately, learning what to do when what you do unto others is not reciprocated is a difficult lesson I had to learn from experiencing it.  I understand that the ways in which humans handle certain situations differ, of course, but expecting patience and comfort from one’s significant other, one’s husband, is never too much to expect when that is what one is giving.  I guess this is why it’s been said, “It wasn’t a waste of time if you learned something.”

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