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Day 82: Crashing into Christmas Eve

December 25, 2012

I’ve decided to get back to my blog’s roots and ditch the house talk for today. Those roots started with The Grand Rapids Press MyGR6 contest last year. Describe Grand Rapids in six words was the goal. Mine were unfolding the story of my life, which spurred the title of this blog. The subheading says chronicles of my love affair with Grand Rapids. Those chronicles quickly fell by the wayside as I became wrapped up in my house hunt.

All my stories, however, seem to come back to home, and that’s where the story of Grand Rapids’ public transportation begins.

Calin buckled himself into his booster seat while I  set my beautiful bowl of fruit in the passenger seat. I didn’t bother to secure it; the bowl must weigh at least five pounds. This baby wasn’t going anywhere.

As we pulled out of the driveway, Calin was singing his excitement about going to see our Eastown neighbors. Our sleepy litle street spits out onto Eastern, a block from a (relatively) busy intersection. Tonight, like many other nights, traffic was backed up well beyond our road. I clicked my blinker to turn left. A woman in a silver SUV motioned for me to go ahead. So I pulled out, looked to the right to make sure the northbound lane was clear and that’s when I heard a horn.

The next few seconds proceeded in slow motion as I realized the woman hadn’t checked the turn lane before waving to me. My jaw dropped in disbelief. There was nothing I could do but stare at the headlights disappearing into my car. I don’t remember attempting to brake or turn the wheel, screaming or even feeling panicked. I’m sure the colliding metal roared, but I didn’t hear it. Calin had whipped forward, hitting his chin on the passenger seat. But I don’t remember feeling the impact (though my neck and back tell me otherwise today). All I remember is watching helplessly, thinking, you’ve got to be kidding me (I’d have expected the F bomb or other profanities to fly out).

Once everything was still, the sweet scent of strawberry wafted through my car. For a moment, I was perplexed, wondering what sort of fluid was leaking in my engine. And then I noticed the mosaic of berries, bananas and watermelon strewn across the floor. Should have secured that bowl.

I looked to the backseat. Calin was wide-eyed, straining to see what had happened, but he seemed ok. He said he was ok. I stared across the library parking lot stunned, until I saw the other driver hurrying to my door. That’s when I realized I should do something other than sit. I hopped out not having any idea what to say to him (“Are you ok?” would have been a start). He was kind and apologetic, concerned that we were ok. And that’s when Calin started sobbing, a result of both fright and pain (it’s a harsh crimson scrape today).

My headlight hung by a wire. The pavement glittered with shards of my car. Chunks of my bumper were strewn across the road. The police arrived; I got the ticket. Ninety minutes later, they were surprised my car started. I put it into drive, but instead of rolling forward, the front end of my car lifted up.

Teary eyed, I asked the police to call a tow truck. I called my Eastown neighbor. A still-hysterical Calin (turned angry, turned hurt, turned grateful, turned sad) and I needed company. She was on her way. A loaner car was mentioned when we arrived and my spirits were suddenly lifted. I had forgotten about rental coverage with my new insurance policy!

Unfortunately, the rental places aren’t open Sunday. But we still needed to get to Meijer to prepare for our Christmas Eve feast. No time like the present to finally take a ride on The Rapid! There’s a bus stop just a block away. The trip would take about 45 minutes, according to the website. I’m not sure why that number didn’t trigger logic in that moment. We live less than two miles from our destination. My brain must have been rattled in that crash. We got off the first bus, walked a few yards to the transfer and realized the next bus wasn’t coming for 42 minutes. Thank god we’d bundled up. Instead of waiting, we trekked down 28th Street and made our way to Meijer.

Trekking down 28th Street on a blistery, cold day

Trekking down 28th Street on a blistery, cold day

Once we got close to completing our shopping list, I checked the bus schedule. Damn. We’ll have to wait 25 minutes after the exchange to grab the number four. We could have walked, but with three heavy bags of groceries, an increasingly pained neck and a tired four-year old, I caved and called my mom. My dad swooped in to the rescue and scooped us up at the bus stop.

I guess I slightly glamorized our little city transit system, as if these buses were the subways of New York or Barcelona. Not quite. It takes a little planning – but they are much cleaner. Now that I’ve got the first step out of the way and a paper map to study, I’ll definitely feel much more comfortable riding The Rapid again (they drivers were so helpful!). Experience, once again, is the best teacher. I’m grateful to live in a city that has public transportation, especially in times like these!

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