Monday, May 26, 2008

My out of body experience on Memorial Day

As I was cruising down I-75 in the middle lane of a three lane stretch of the highway, heading back down from Gainesville to Miami today, the car in front of me had a blow out of the left rear tire. This caused the driver to swerve over into the left lane, then back across all three lanes, and back into the middle lane as it did a complete 180 and stopped, facing the wrong way on the south bound lanes of I-75.
Their was an 18 wheeler in the right lane next to me, and that guy layed on the brakes. Smoke was coming from his wheel wells. I also put on the brakes as quickly as possible, and as I did so, I looked into the rear view mirror, hoping that the people behind me were paying attention. I knew I was going to avoid smacking the blown tire dude, and I was only hoping that the people behind me were not going to whack me.
All worked out well. For a second or two as I was completely stopped in the middle lane of I-75 facing southbound, while staring at a car that was in the same lane as me, also completely stopped, but facing Northbound, I just stared. It seemed to have happened in slow motion.
The driver and passenger of the car got out, kind of walked around the vehicle in a dazed and zombie like looking way, and then people started going around on both the left and right lanes. The 18 wheeler had gone by the vehicle as it was happening, he would have been unable to stop if the guy had ended up in that right lane, instead of the center, and this would be an entirely different story. No one was hurt, but in the 15 seconds or so that it went down, and the other 30 seconds or so that I was sitting there, traffic behind me already started backing up horrifically. This was the end of a holiday weekend and the road was super congested as it was, but now this
was going to add hours to people's trips that had left only a few minutes later then I had.
Me? I went around on the right side, but as I did so, I stopped next to the guy, rolled down my window and told him how awesome his driving skills were. The fact he didn't run in front of the barreling semi, or flip the thing was a nice piece of skillful driving. I gave him a fist bump and took off down the road. As I was doing so I thought to myself, should I try to help? I could see what needed done. they needed to have one of the guys basically stop all three lanes of traffic (it was already stopped for them, they just needed to keep it stopped for a few minutes.) Then they needed to limp the thing off to the side of the road, let the three lanes of traffic go on their way, change the tire and continue on their travels. It would have taken about four minutes of my time to have coordinated all that for them, at least the part of it where they have their car over on the side of the road. It always takes at least thirty minutes to change a tire on the shoulder of the highway, and it involves lots of cursing and stuff, as well as sweating when it is done in Late May, in Florida.
In the end, it was a car accident that wasn't. It was some drama for the guys in the car with the blown out tire, and no doubt, the Semi truck driver had his heart racing as well. For me, it was kind of an out of body experience, I swear it happened in super slow motion and as I was reacting, it was like I was observing everything in a very unattached manner. Like it was on T.V. or something, as if there was no chance of me getting steel on steel action with the guy, in fact, my most vivid memory of the whole situation was looking into the rear view mirror and completely hoping the people behind me were paying attention. I knew I had no real control over that part of the situation and as I saw them braking, a calmness came over me. Bizarre trip down to Miami today. That trip is such a part of my life right now, both ways, every three weeks. It has provided me with my first ever out of body experience. Happened by myself on a stretch of that road, just south of Ocala Florida.
Rick, thank you for the link!


Brian in Mpls said...

Scary!! I am glad it turned out the way it it.

Quin Browne said...

i get the slo mo thing... odd how it continues that way, even with 20/20 hindsight...

um, what is with men and the hand hitting thing?

jus' askin'

quincee said...

Wow! It must be something about that stretch of the interstate. Glad you're okay. Your blog is an interesting read. Thanks for visiting my blog. You're right about forgiveness in the book. She great about it and very convincing. I'm not sure I'm there yet.


Bill From Gainesville said...

Brian, that was the thing, after it happened I reflected on it and at no time was I scared or excited about the whole thing, even when I looked in my rear view mirror to see if I was going to get whacked that way, it was more out of curiosity then anything else, it really was a unique and weird experience I have been in near accidents and accidents before where I my heart totally went to racing this was not the case here and it could have been a horrific terrible accident with a semi truck and everything
Quin-- it just felt like the right thing to do in hindsight, I wish I would have followed my instinct to help them out but it wasnt like I left the scene of an accident where anyone was hurt I just dont know if they were thinking enough at that point from the exhiliration to straighten the situation out.... oh well I am over my failure to do that now
Quincee -- awesome awesome book even if it makes me a little gay as I am probably the only heterosexual man in the world that has read it.

Native Minnow said...

Wow. I'm glad everyone was ok. It totally would have ruined your day if the guy would've been killed by the semi. His too.

Quin Browne said...

bill~i understood why you didn't stop. i've done the same thing, driving past, and later wondered why i didn't stop, do something whatever... but, i did understand your pov.

i really was asking why do guys to the hand bump thing. i don't read 'guy' language.

Bill From Gainesville said...

Minnow, if the Semi would have plowed that dude I absolutely would have stopped on the side of the road and helped out some more, and I am sure it was quite freaky for the Semi, me not so much because again, I was outside of my body just kind of observing.
Quin, - it just felt right to give the guy some encouragement He was a young black fellow and I looked into his eyes and he was just not there, I mean, he was there standing by his car looking around but he probably doesnt even remember giving me a fist bump, he just did it because I was offering my fist and quite honestly thats why we fist bump cause its like a mountain you just do.

The Charming Hedonist said...

Oy veigh! That's a scary stretch of I75. Glad everything came out okay and you're safe! To think, I could have lost a gator to pick on for his poor taste in football!

scg said...

I'm glad you avoided a permanent out of body experience dude! That would have been really bad, since I hardly made it through the three day weekend without reading any new posts from you!

Welcome back!

PhoenixHearse said...

Glad you're okay. My chest always hurts really bad after situations like that, like my heart was literally pounding on my ribcage.