Saturday, December 12, 2015

Moment of Impact

The first time I witnessed a car accident I was seventeen. I was in the car with Nathan. We were waiting at a light to go to Wendy's. The cars turning left were making their way through the intersection. It all happened in a flash. There was an awful crunch. Some crunches are satisfying--like stepping on crisp fall leaves. This wasn't. It was the sound of metal twisting and turning. A kid barely older than me blew through the red light. His car broadsided another sedan waiting to turn left. Drivers of both vehicles were unconscious. Simultaneously, everyone froze and moved. 

Within the coming week, I found out that the lady who got broadsided was someone I knew. She lived a couple of neighborhoods away. Her sons were in school with me. When I asked her about it, she told me that before it happened, she knew it was coming. She didn't say it as if she was aware of some impending doom. Her voice was pleasant and calm. Teenage me thought I understood what she was saying. 


It was the summer of 2013 that I first experience "grown-up freedom". It's not really freedom, but after being in school your whole life, it feels like freedom. It's not until you have to pay bills that you realize childhood is freedom. 

Summer 2013 was the year I started working "grown-up jobs". I got my first full time job that summer. I worked as technical support for a SaaS company. The first few days of training on the job were boring. Grown-up jobs come with a lot of paperwork. I signed more documents in those first few days than I had in my whole life I think. I didn't understand most of the words they were saying. I'm not sure they were even speaking English. I signed my name anyway. 

The actual job training was easy. We had to practice setting up a platform, and practice organizing data. Our last task was to listen to call recordings done by others. Our worksheet outlined what to look for. After two calls, I figured out the formula and could skip through the recordings to find the answers. While everyone else listened to five calls after lunch, I had listened to them all two hours before the end of the day. 

I found agents' calls I liked. None of the calls were scripted, but each agent fell into a certain pattern. Spencer had a good rhythm. Ryan's calls were really short; he was intelligent. Coy had good business skills. But it was Richi's calls that I particularly enjoyed; it sounded like every customer was his best friend. 

I finished listening to the recordings and sat in silence for the last two hours. The next day, I got a desk, computer, and phone. 


If we could break through traffic, we could get some good speed and make it to the lights on time. There was a sea of tail lights ahead. Off to the right were emergency lights. 

Richi prompted me to slow down earlier than I would have. The Dodge in front of us stopped sooner than it seemed they would have. Our van came to a stop behind them. Simultaneously, the world stopped and jumped to action. 

I heard tires squeal behind me. It was dark in the mirrors, but it I could make out the outline of the Crown Victoria behind us. I watched them swerve to the right, out of my driver's side mirror and into the view of the passenger's. 

The sound of metal twisting and turning around itself filled my ears. My body slammed forward, then whipped back. My eyes filled with grey and red. The kids in the back screamed. Their faces were wet with tears already as they checked each other for injuries and reached for their phones. 


At the SaaS company, my desk was near the end. The desk to my left was empty, waiting for fellow new-hire. The desk to my right had a computer, but I was informed that the owner, Richi, wouldn't be here until night. 

Richi and I only saw each other for a few minutes when he came in before I left for the day. His day always started as mine ended. When he graduated on September 11, his scheduled changed to a more regular one. 

I was leaving for the day early. Early in December and early in the day. Richi had switched departments. I partially think it was because we talked too much. We frequently got dirty looks for our conversations. (His voice carries, even when he's quiet.) He offered to walk me to the door. 

We walked down the stairs to the lobby. He paused. I'm not sure what words he used, but he asked to take me to a movie. Simultaneously, the world froze and sped forward. I accepted, happily. 

The movie was something about space. I can't remember. I didn't watch a lot of the movie. On occasion my eyes flicked to the screen, but they spent the majority of the time watching Richi. His eyes filled with the intensity of the film; he clutched his unopened candy in both hands. He is the person filmmakers think of when making a movie. 


My neighbor told me she saw it coming before the car hit her. I thought I understood. I didn't. I'm not sure I understand yet, but I think I'm closer. 

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