Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I visited Darwin

Its a wonder I am alive.  It is impossible to count the number of stupid things I have done or participated in that have put my life at risk.  I fell off a building (57 feet), crashed over the safety fence ski racing, crashed my motorcycle (5 times), these all ended in pain but I survived.  There are untold number of other incidents where I escaped unscathed but seriously? Jumped off a 60 foot cliff, checked the max speed of my motorcycle on I90 (155), jumped off the east channel bridge (80 or 90 feet I think), crashed my car into the median at 50 mph (it was a Volvo), and of course the obligatory sky diving, rock climbing, scuba diving type of activities.  All of these pale in comparison to THE car crash.

In my late 20s, say 28, I was sitting at home on a Friday afternoon reading the newspaper.  I can hear the bass thumping from blocks away but I did not expect it to pull into my driveway.  All of the sudden Joe and Ed barge in, beers in hand.  "Les go down town drinking"  I can tell they had been drinking already and remember thinking, this is a bad idea, but I went anyway.  We hop in Joe's new convertible Porsche and roar off down the road.  They immediately hand me a beer and head for the freeway.  As if I did not know it was bad already as we are driving onto the freeway, they both throw empty beer bottles at a road sign, passenger scores a hit but the driver misses, that cannot be a good sign.

Heading south on 405 we are probably going 120.  I am in the back seat, which is more like a seat on a carnival ride, and I cannot put on a seat belt because I literally cannot fit in one of the seats.  We exit 405 and get on 520 but there is traffic everywhere, if you drive home from Microsoft everyday you will recognize the extent of the traffic I am talking about.  Traffic, smaffic, we are still going 100 mph weaving in and out of traffic, driving between cars and on the shoulder.  I lean forward to Ed and I say, "you are witnessing Darwin's theory in action".  To which he says, quit being a baby.  I decide I have to get a seat belt on and I figure out I can connect the two together in a MacGyver kind of way.  Just as I finish, I look up and we are trapped, cars getting on at Lake Washington Blvd and freeway almost stopped.  No where to go.

The path of the crash is fascinating.  Joe locks up the brakes and the car spins left across both lanes of traffic, the car behind in the slow lane swerves into the car in the fast lane (#1 & #2).  Then he fishtails right, literally passing a car sliding sideways and clips the front of it spinning that car out of control (#3).  At this point I remember distinctly thinking my head was going to sound like a melon when the car rolled and my head hit the pavement.  we shoot back across both lanes of traffic and the carpool lane, graze the front of a Honda (#4) and smash into the cement wall of the underpass and now the car is heading straight down the freeway but on the grass, yes still passing cars.  I can see Joe is trying to turn the wheel to the left trying to avoid the lamp post so I start yelling, take your foot off the break, take your foot off the break since that was the only way the front tires were going to get traction.  Clearly I was not thinking about which way he was turning, I was only thinking about the pain of that post hitting my head.  Joe takes his foot off the break and the tires hook up and we immediately shoot back across booth lanes of traffic and smash nose first into the center barrier.  At this point I look back up the freeway and I see this old couple driving a Ford Taurus or something.  Their expressions of complete shock wondering where we came from still burned in my memory.  Poor guy did not even get his foot on the breaks before he t-boned us (#5, plus us #6).  Additionally there were 2 other cars that crashed just due to the confusion putting the total at 8.  Over $150k in total damage.

We are standing on the side of the freeway and a bunch of people are just screaming at Joe and since we are only a couple of miles from my house I figure I had better go and get my car since we are not driving the Porsche home.  I come back and Joe and Ed are in the back of a cop car.  At first the cop wants to arrest me for leaving the scene of a crime but some how I convince him I was doing the right thing and that he should release Joe and Ed into my custody.  How ridiculous is that?  But as I said in in London, I have a way with cops.

I have not taken part in a truly stupid activity since.

I did these things when I was young and invincible, immortal even.  Now that I am older and wiser, or perhaps I simply fear for my life, I have better judgement.  It could be that I love my wife and kids or perhaps just that I hate pain but either way I just don't do these types of things any more.  Remembering the folly of my youth though, makes me fear for my children.  Can I save them from these things or do you have to just cast the die and see what happens?  The thought of out living my boys scares me more than any broken bone.  I guess all I can do is love them as much as I can while we are both still alive.  I think I will take them to motorcycle camp next summer!

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