48 essays by Elizabeth Shé

Posts Tagged ‘freeway’

Essay #7: speeding down the highway

In Love on April 18, 2011 at 11:12 am

Sunday afternoon, driving north on 1-5, I see flashing lights up ahead – cops.
Is it a round robin? (That’s a swerving maneuver used to slow or stop traffic.)

Wait — one of the cops is speeding toward me, heading south on the northbound side of the highway — what the hell!?!

Another cop follows, siren screaming, lights flashing, and then I see a small silvery beige car ahead of them, nearer to me, and I register reality — three cop cars are chasing a beige car heading south on the freeway. Toward me.

I have good brakes. The many Seattle-bound drivers around me have good brakes. From 70 miles an hour to a dead stop. All of us. No smashing. No crashing.

The beige car zooms past me on the right, flying down the highway against traffic, trailing police. What’s that math problem? One driver starts at point A traveling 70 mph, another driver starts at point B traveling 100 mph. Driver A stops her beautifully crafted Toyota on a dime as driver B heads for the airport in the wrong lane, on the wrong side of the highway, with a police escort.

After they pass us, we (Drivers A) stay where we are for several minutes — askew and scattered across five lanes of interstate highway. We breathe. Feel our blood, still in our bodies. A miracle. A woman in a white car near the breakdown lane is laughing. Adrenaline rush.

Slowly, we start rolling, and soon we’re doing 70 miles an hour again. My eyes are wide open. Here’s proof, once more, that I really have no idea what’s going to happen. Ever.

How could you prepare for something like this? It ain’t in the driving test, baby.
All I can do is be present, take things as they come, even if they are speeding toward me, breaking all the rules of the road.

Am I driving at high speed in the wrong direction? Sometimes it feels like it.

Turns out the beige car crashed into a red car about a mile or two behind me. Every single person survived. The red car driver — after a head-on collision! — was not even hospitalized.

Another miracle.