Sunday, September 16, 2012

A matter of inches

A 15-pound piece of metal sliced through the windshield of our car 
last Saturday,narrowly missing my head.  Turns out it was a piece of
a brake drum from a tractor-trailer truck that had  enough velocity to
to punch a neat hole through the windshield and gouge a  2-inch hole
in the upright  portion of the  rear seat.   I stuck the piece of metal
back in the hole it made just for this photo. 
   Talk about your close calls...If the thing that came through our windshield Saturday afternoon had been just two or three inches to the left, I wouldn't be here to tell you about it. I would be on a cold metal slab in a morgue somewhere and the family would be making, uh..arrrangements.
   Saturday afternoon was bright and sunny here.  Lorraine volunteered to drive.  I wanted to work on the computer on the way to Greensboro where we were to attend a surprise 40th anniversary party Steve and Eileen Nester.  Eileen is Lorraine's sistter. ESPN radio was on and I was listening to the broadcast of the UNC - Louisville football game.  My game, Florida - Tennessee, wouldn't come on until 6 p.m. that evening.  I would try to sneak away from the party and catch pieces of the game on Steve's upstairs TV.  The laptop was open and my attention was on the screen, so I didn't see a thing.  Lorraine, on the other hand, couldn't speak as she saw what looked like an large, spinning axe blade hurtling toward us.  Later, she said her thoughts were, "That thing's going to hit us..." when suddently there was a loud crack and the cockpit of the Prius was filled with glass from the shattered windshield.  Many of the particles were so small that they created a kind of glass dust cloud. Both of us were momentarily dazed and functionless but unhurt. I thought the object had bounced off until closer inspection of the back seat revealed a big gouge in the upright portion of the back seat.  Then I saw what turned out to be a piece of a brake drum from a semi truck lying on the bench part of the back seat.  It was about the size of a dinner plate and weighed around 15 pounds.  I eyeballed the trajectory from the back seat gouge to the new windshield vent and gave a low whistle. I estimated that it had missed me by mere inches. "Close call" just doesn't seem to express it. 
         Later that evening Tennessee lost for the eighth time to their hated rivals from Gainsville.  But, for some reason, a near death experience puts even a tragedy of those proportions in perspective.