by Mike Ratliff
I thought I was pretty smart leaving work about 30 minutes early today. It began snowing here about mid-morning and snowed all day. As far as snows go it wasn’t much, but with the heavy rains last night and the slushy condition of the roads as the temperatures dropped all day I knew that they would be slick. That was an understatement. The first 5 miles of my commute were at the blazing speed of 10mph. There were cars on both shoulders in various conditions with the ever-present State Trooper cars with their warning lights flashing. I remember praying as I started my commute that I would arrive home safely and that I would not be the cause of any one else having an accident.
As I lumbered along between 5 and 10mph I was totally amazed that when I braked how I would immediately begin sliding. Then when I hit the gas pedal to speed up how my pickup rear end would fishtail. Then I finally got past all those accidents and came upon a section of road that was not ice, but slush. We all cautiously sped up to between 30 and 40mph. I was content to simply stay back and let everyone zoom past. I was intent on simply driving easy and safe. All went pretty well until I got within a mile of the first exit for the town in which I live. We were back on ice by then. Then I noticed a vehicle in the ditch. There was also one on the shoulder. I was maintaining a distance of about 6 or 7 car lengths between me and the group of cars ahead. There were some in the left lane driving at insane speeds. I mean, we were on ice! In any case, the third car in line ahead of me suddenly started spinning. I got out of the gas immediately and tried to slow down the best I could. It was if I was on skis on a down slope. The fellow in front of me managed to get by the one spinning when it temporarily went on the shoulder and partially in the ditch. However, those in the left lane seemed determined to keep me from pulling over there. I had no choice but to stay as straight as possible while trying to stop.
I could tell that it was going to be close. I began shouting for the fellow in the spinning car to not try to get back out on the highway. If he stopped then I had just enough room to get by, but he pulled right in front of me as my pickup’s right front bumper slammed into his left front tire. You know, a 1998 Mazda B2500 pickup has great deal more mass than a 2009 Toyota Camry. Even though I was on my brakes and had no forward inertia coming through my drive train, the Camry was knocked back onto the shoulder and I simply kept going straight. The collision finally broke my forward speed and I was able to get stopped about one car length past the Camry. My first reaction was anger. All the ‘dude’ had to do was stay put, but NO he pulled right out in front of me! I got out and started stalking my way back to the scene of the accident. The passenger was out. She was apologizing all over the place and I could see that she was terrified. The driver was looking at the damage. Both were okay. I was unhurt. I called my insurance agent who told me to call 911, which we did.
It took almost an hour for a Trooper to show up. He took our drivers licenses and insurance cards from us and told us to get back into our vehicles, which we did. Then a few minutes later he came over to my driver’s side and told me to drive up to the exit, take it, and pull into the McDonald’s Restaurant parking lot, which would be a great deal safer than trying to take care of this on the ice covered road and shoulder. It was as I drove over there that I noticed that my pickup was not the same. There was a rubbing sound coming from the right side and my Check Engine light was on. It seemed to be running okay, but after all, it is over 10 years old. The Trooper filled out an accident report, returned our driver’s licenses and insurance cards. He gave each of us an Accident Information Exchange form. Then I drove home.
Now I am dealing with two insurance companies and I can tell that everyone involved seems to be doing all they can not to pay any more than they have to. In fact, some have warned me that the other fellow may very well try to change his story and make it my fault et cetera. I was also pressured to ‘not be so nice’ and make sure that I stand my ground. This was an accident. I do not see how either of us could have avoided it. I did ask the other driver why he tried to pull back out on the highway after spinning, but he replied that he was on the brakes as hard as he could be and it just would not stop. I understood that completely.
As I pulled into my driveway this evening a couple hours later than I should have, I reflected on how God had answered my prayer about arriving home safe and not being the cause of an accident to any one else. Did He answer it? I am unhurt. I am home. I did not cause the accident, but that did not mean that I would not be involved in one. What purpose could this possibly serve then?
God puts His people through tests and trials. Some of these are fiery trials. Our interaction with this world system is the source of much of this. These tests and trials are used by God to prune us to make us less self-reliant and more humble and dependent upon Him. I am sure that I am in for a great deal of aggravation dealing with this. I pray that God will work through it for my sanctification and that I will be a witness to all through this that reflects Christ’s character to them and that God will be glorified through it all.
Soli Deo Gloria!