Starting the New Job with a Bang. Of Deployed Airbags. 

I don’t like writing about work. However, it’s impacted my ability to write as much as I want, so why not write about the thing getting in my way of writing.

The call center I worked at closed. I didn’t even update my social media to reflect when I started and stopped working there because of how temporary it felt. For two years I felt every day like it could be my last, that somehow I would accidentally mess up and would be “promoted to customer”. I didn’t want to have to answer questions when I updated my status to no longer working there, so I never put that I started.

Part of me celebrated the change. I knew there should be something better available but I didn’t have the motivation to search until it was inevitable that I would need to. Fortunately I found something that might contribute to my longterm goals, at the pay I asked for, and with phenomenal benefits, an opportunity to move up or around, and with a sense of permanence.

Things were looking better and better for the family. We could afford and now needed a second vehicle and bought one at an amazing deal. It was an old, gold Buick, with oversized rims that rubbed the shroud at the turns, an upgraded radio, and a second battery installed under the back seats. On top of getting a new-to-us car, I got new-to-me clothing for work attire and brand new beautiful sneakers shaped like ballet slippers that are a cloud to walk on.

The first day brought with it a cold front, and with it chilling rain. Bailey had the radio on, and I turned on the GPS on my phone for her and worked on filing my nails so I wouldn’t feel the need to during training.

I get paranoid in a car. It’s not enough to be a phobia, but I will make sure that I’m fully aware of the fact that I am in a metal and glass box going at a rate that is faster than I regularly fall or propel myself, moving in between other fast moving metal and glass boxes that are all piloted by mortals. When this thought crosses my mind, I say a quick prayer less formal than “Jesus take the wheel” and put it out of mind. I made such a prayer under my breath when my wariness dreamed up some catastrophe as it occasionally does and went back to filing my nails. And then I felt that familiar drift, when the direction of inertia shifts ever so slightly. That familiar feeling I had driving a Hummer through the mud, ever so mindful of the barbed wires and their distance to the paint on the vehicle waxing and waning. In my flash back I miraculously never scraped the fencing.  In this moment I thought to myself ‘it can happen and it also can not happen. Anything is possible in this moment where you have no control.’ And the cement barrier approached the hood and met it and my phone flew to my right off my lap and I saw a commercial asking how will you call for help when you’re in an accident and the air bags deployed and my wife screamed and just as suddenly we stopped.

“You’re okay,” I convinced Bailey. I don’t remember needing to remind her to move to the shoulder, though I remained ever so mindful that we were now perpendicular to the flow of traffic on a busy street on a bridge. Once she had us pulled over she gave into sobbing. I reminded her once more that she was okay. I was reluctant to call 911 and chose instead to call Edward first. I’m sure that if there was blood my priorities would change, but I felt like everything was on pause and that I could take my time. I had him on speaker.

“Hello.”

“How do you turn the f***ing radio off.” Bailey was still crying in the background.

“What? What’s going on?”

“We got in an accident.”

Pause.

“Are you serious?”

“Yes.” Pause. “I call 911, right?” I didn’t trust my competency too much because of the adrenaline.

“Yes call 911. Where are you? I’m going to get you.” I told him our location and he reminded me to call work to tell them I would be late.

“Bailey, I’m going to call 911 and they’re going to ask us where we are. I’m not that good with directions, so I’m going to need your help. They’re usually not that nice to me.” I put my phone on speaker and reassuringly held her hand. After I reminded Bailey that she was okay I asked if she was injured. After the call disconnected she complained her head hurt.

“When they ask if you’re okay, that’s the time to say something like that.” I joked with her about starting my new job with a bang, and chuckled when the emergency vehicles came up the access road just ahead of us and kept going.
Edward reached us before them. I had a flashback to a news special I saw about a police officer that repeatedly had his car crashed into when it was parked on the shoulder. He came up to Bailey’s side and she opened the door, nudging him towards traffic. “Open the window.” She closed the door and opened the window. “Charlotte, they have a hundred percent attendance policy. I’m going to take you right now.” I looked again at my door and found that we were parked against the shoulder, and I instead climbed over the car seats to escape out the back.

During the training for my new position, if things became too quiet I saw the cement barrier meet the hood. I still rattled from the adrenaline. Bailey didn’t find my nail file when she emptied out the car, and the two short nails on my left hand brought me back to the moment of impact over and over. I texted on my breaks and learned that the car we had for 10 days was totalled. After work I was informed that the total insurance coverage would pay for the car at retail value. I also had it confirmed that Bailey was okay, and there were no other cars involved in the accident at all.

“Can we get a Prius next?” I fantasized about the look on my mother’s face when she saw I had my dream car.

Edward responded, “We really need a minivan to transport the kids. But after that.”