I nearly died three days ago.
This is my first winter in a new town, and I’m getting use to winter conditions for the area. I’m normally careful, but I was returning home from overtime after dark. The last thing I was expecting was for the day’s rain to start turning into black ice while I was driving over it. But there I was, going 60 on a back country highway when the road started betraying me.
At first it felt like the road was lumpy. My tires kept gaining and losing traction, that made it seem like I was going over a bunch of tiny bumps over and over again. Then I started drifting. Small micro corrections took care of it, but I had cruise control turned on, so the slips kept getting worse and worse. I couldn’t trust myself to remove a hand from the wheel long enough to cut the cruise control without losing control of my car, so I did the only thing I thought I could to disengage the cruise control. I pumped my breaks once. That was enough to start the skid.
The car instantly turned 30 degrees. If my tires started forward momentum again I’d drive directly off the road. So I had no choice but to double down on the breaks. I pushed those breaks hard because my life depended on them. The car was stable for a hundred feet, but then turned again, and I was sliding backwards at a speed I couldn’t check because it was black as pitch outside and the last thing on my mind was checking my speedometer.
In that moment, I had this clarity of mind.
I should have been terrified, screaming in fear. But I only had a calm about me where I knew that everything was out of my hands, and I could only wait for something to happen that I could take control of. I think the thought that passed through my mind, while waiting for what came next was, “Well, I’m riding this bitch ’till the end, now.”
I don’t know how many hundred feet I went. I slid somewhere between 30 seconds and a minute. But my angle of slide eventually took me off the opposite side of the road. I hit earth in the ditch that was as soft as pillows, catching me and only dirtying the paint of my car as I was slammed directly into the seat I was strapped into. No whiplash. No damage. Just a sore back at work the following day and a stiff neck I treated with a few hours exposure to a hot pad. Insofar as 60 mile and hour crashes… it was the best possible outcome one could have ever hoped for. I was even able to just turn the wheel and drive back onto the road and all the way back home.
I’m telling all of you this because… I can’t release this after incident tension any other way. I can’t tell anyone in my family without it getting back to my parents. My mother’s best friends died from black ice. She’d never feel safe with me behind the wheel of a car again if she heard this.
I’m sorry for dropping this on you. But I needed someone to hear my story without interrupting me with inane comments. And none of the people I tried relating it to could do that. So… thanks readers. I really needed this.