THAT’S HOW I ROLL

by Steve Clem on January 31, 2011

Within about 15 minutes of rolling my car, I knew what I was going to post as my Facebook status update*

*(this blog post will not address the pathetic nature of the above sentence).

I had already called the people who would be most worried about me. And I realized that it was somewhat twisted that I always liked to use the phrase “that’s how I roll” on Facebook and in real life, and here I was, living it out literally.

Leading up to the rolling of my car, it was just the average drive between the Twin Cities and Sioux City. A drive I first started making on a regular basis back in 1989. One I can do in my sleep. I think I know every single bathroom stall and gas nozzle between these two locations.

The weather was light snow. I’ve driven through countless ice storms and blizzards, even torrential downpours and the occasional tornado warning. This didn’t seem to be anything to worry about.

I had told Kim I’d be there between 4:30 and 5:00. The roads weren’t bad. Light snow falling.

Kim is pretty much a wimp when it comes to winter driving. She’s the first to admit it. And she freaks out when people she knows are driving in bad weather. Which is why I generally found it was better to either lie or omit evidence when letting her know how the roads were.

But this time I was telling the truth. Light snow. Roads weren’t bad.

So imagine my surprise when, while going around a curve, I found my car weaving from left to right, a little bit like a first-time ice skater. I quickly downshifted, one factor into why I’m lucky to be here typing this blog entry right now. The downshifting probably brought my speed down from 65 mph to about 45-50 mph.

Despite my best efforts, my car finally decided to win and my rear bumper swung around as if to say “Hey, Kim’s going to know you’re lying right about now.”

The next few seconds, or minutes, or however long it was, were a slow motion blur. If you don’t know what a slow motion blur is, well, you haven’t seen your life flash before your eyes. I did. And I literally said to myself “This is it, I’ve had a good run.” Well I also said a few words that I don’t want to type.

As my car slid into the median, which was essentially a large mound of snow in a deep ditch, it smacked the snow sideways on the passenger side. It flipped over onto the roof, then flipped back onto the tires. The car thought about rolling one more time onto the roof again, but the snow won the battle.

The first thing I did was check the keys to see if my engine ran. It worked. Then I was wondering why if felt like I was outside, and then I looked up and saw my sunroof was gone. Oh, hey sky. what’s up?

By now, a passer-by had stopped and opened my car door to see if I was okay. “Yeah I’m fine. But I don’t think my car is so happy.”

The man looked at me like I was insane. “I just watched you slide and then roll your car. I didn’t know if I was going to find you conscious here.” Touche.

“Yes, I’m very lucky. I should probably call 911, huh?” I replied.

The next little while went fast. In fact, between getting a ride to the gas station, then waiting for a different gas station to send the tow truck, then talk to the sheriff, then the state trooper, then get the car pulled out of the ditch and reports filled out, and payments made, and having all 3 entities telling me that my car looked like it was drivable and fine, well, you get the point with this run-on sentence, don’t you?

Suffice it to say, I was an hour and a half late to my destination. Not bad for my first rollover. Let alone first car accident.

I’ve felt a mixture of emotions over the last couple days after my first car accident.

Number one…I’m reminded of what I learned at age 18 while working at the United 232 crash site – Live every day like it might be your last, because we don’t choose when it arrives.

Number two…I’ve been laughing and smiling and grateful as hell realizing that I am one lucky person right now. I’m fine. My car is mostly fine, outside of a smashed roof.

Number three…I am going to have one hell of a bar story to tell when the topic of car accidents comes up. And an awesome nickname care of a Facebook friend…”Stevel Knievel.”

And the punchline of the bar story will always be “Because that’s how I roll.”

* * * *

Steve Clem originally published this piece on the blog A Prisoner in the Tundra.

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