Not a Total Loss
By Janet Sobczyk, 2017
Time to clean out the car. It should have been no big deal.
The repairman directed us to the back lot and brought out the key. He removed the plates from my daughter’s t-boned, black Prius as she unloaded her possessions from the interior. An ice scraper, blanket, registration papers, sunglasses. Andrea left the empty coffee cup in the holder. Its mocha brown contents stained the passenger floor.
She turned to me and I hugged her, tears welling up. Sadness clouded our faces at the loss of her first, self-paid car. The insurance company deemed it a total loss, but she yearned to have it repaired and returned to our driveway.
My tears were a mixture of sadness and relief. I knew how fortunate she was to walk away with only whiplash. The t-boned car next to hers had suffered much worse, and so had its owner. The door smashed far into the driver’s seat. The fabric streaked with a dried substance, much darker than a latte. I turned away with a shudder, to load her things into my van.
As I walked past the line of crushed cars, a flashback took me to a similar lot, several years ago. The sight of my oldest daughter’s smashed silver Santa Fe. She, too, walked away with whiplash, from a head-on collision. The other driver had led police on a high-speed car chase through Kansas City and ran off after the crash, with the police in hot pursuit. Meanwhile, paramedics checked Carolyn, an innocent bystander on her way to work. The tow truck driver kindly offered her a ride home.
As we traveled from Omaha to KC to be with her, news of the chase permeated the radio broadcasts. My stomach lurched at each replay of the event until we could see she would be okay.
My mind raced back to her other t-boned vehicle, a black Mazda. That time a plumbing truck didn’t stop at the red light. Its driver was heading into the setting sun and talking on his cell phone.
Three vehicles totaled. Three times our girls walked away. Three miracles. I cried with gratitude. Then wiped my tears to drive Andrea to work. She pointed out the row of waiting, crumpled vehicles. “Look! They’re all either black or silver!” Just like the three cars we lost.
Without a doubt, the next one we buy will be… red!
Postscript: Andrea's new car is a bright blue. And Carolyn bought a tan one. Good enough!