I rear ended a Toyota years ago. I was driving the highway, John Conlee was on the radio singing “Rose Colored Glasses.”
It was the worst day ever. I can close my eyes and recall the whole scene. It had been a bad week. A dark year. And it got dimmer.
A car ahead of me slammed its brakes. The tailpipe came toward me so fast I didn’t have time to say: “Holy Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego!”
The crash was loud. I blacked out.
When I awoke, I was lying in the median. Paramedics were around me. I couldn’t remember my name. I was out of it.
“You’re gonna be okay,” the EMT said. “You’re just in shock. And look on the bright side, kid, at least you didn’t poop your pants.”
Thank God for small blessings.
They rushed me to the ER. No broken bones. Only bruises. A doctor shined a light in my eyes and inspected my neurological reactions.
He was a white-haired man who said, “Say your ABCs backward for me, son.”
I closed my eyes and said, “‘Your ABCs backward, son.’”
A good laugh was had by all—except the doctor, who charged an extra fourteen hundred bucks for laughter.
That night, I sat on the sofa with bruised ribs. The medication my wife had given me made me loopy, I was starting to see things. Julia Child, for instance, was on television, descaling a fish and I seriously believed she was trying to assault me with Japanese cutlery.
My truck was totaled. My face was beaten up. My collarbone and ribs hurt.
It truly was the worst day ever. And I’d just come off the heels of what had been the worst month ever. Weeks earlier, my longtime dream of becoming a writer had been squashed—I’d been rejected from an academic writing program.
AND: I had been turned down from a job I’d wanted.
AND: I’d lost my job on a landscaping crew.
AND: our bank account had $91.23 in it.
Life couldn’t have been any sadder, I thought. And here I was watching Julia Child prepare salmon with cucumber sauce while having mild pharmaceutical-grade hallucinations.
The next day was worse. My wife came home with a frown on her face. She held certified mail in her hands.
Her first words were: “The victim’s insurance company is suing you.”
I started crying so hard it made my head hurt. I’ve never been sued before.
That afternoon I laid in a lawn chair lounger in our backyard with my dog. I stared at the sky and felt sorry for myself. I decided to write a story. I don’t know why. Call it the side-effects of potent medication, or just plain boredom. I wrote for hours on a yellow legal pad.
When my wife got home from work, she laid beside my dog and me.
They are my family. And they held me tight. They’ve always done that. When I finished weeping, my wife picked up the legal pad and read my story.
Finally she said, “Hey, this is good.”
“You know what you oughta do?” she went on. “You should post this online.”
And do you know what? That was how an entirely new phase of my life began. My wife’s few words. That car accident. That legal pad. Julia Child. My worst day ever, as it happens, wasn’t all that bad.
I sincerely hope yours isn’t either.