When you switch lanes in hopes of going faster, the new one always seems to slow down as soon as you cross over.
Immediately after I moved into the far right lane on Interstate 20 near the Thornton Road exit Tuesday, the line of cars practically stopped—at the head of the line, an 18-wheeler was slowly chugging up the incline of the road.
But the slow-go was soon to be the least of my worries.
About 15 seconds after I switched lanes, my Ford Ranger was struck from behind, sending me rolling (literally) to the left across all four lanes. With a gap between my truck bed and the road, I assume the other car’s front end acted as a fast-moving wedge.
After two complete rotations, my truck came to a rest right-side up, half in the left-side shoulder, half jutting into the lane.
The roof became concave, more so right above my head. Most all the glass was broken out. Even a wheel (or was it two?) got knocked off. As for me, I had some small cuts on my hand and one on my forehead, and there are several targeted areas on my body still in pain—especially in my back—that I hope will soon disappear.
During the trip to the hospital, the paramedic in the back of the ambulance said something to the effect of: “On your way home, you need to buy a lottery ticket because today is your lucky day. When we pulled up and saw the wreck, we figured someone had died.”
Remembering what happened the last time I took a coin to a scratch-off ticket, I decided against a lotto purchase.
But I did do something that I don’t do that often: I prayed, thanking God for sparing my crucial innards, my limbs, and, most importantly, my life.
I also thanked him for my mom teaching me the importance of seat belts.
I thanked him for my truck not hitting another vehicle as it went tumbling across the road during heavy late-afternoon traffic.
I thanked him for the two men who stopped to help before the first emergency responders arrived. After they kindly gathered my belongings that were strewn across the interstate, I gave them both my most sincere hug ever.
I thanked him for my two coworkers, John Barker and Holly Roberson, who happened to be passing by right after the wreck and also stopped to help.
And I thanked him for the firefighters, police and medical personnel some never truly appreciate until they're in a time of need.
As for the driver who hit me, he told police that he was looking down as he approached the line of cars and, when he finally realized he needed to stop, accidentally slammed on the accelerator instead of the brake. A simple yet important lesson: Pay attention to the road, because failing to do so could cost lives, including your own.
Reflecting back on the surreal event, I don’t have quite the reinvigorated thirst for "living life to the fullest" that one might expect—though that might come later as things continue to sink in. But currently, I do sincerely mean all my aforementioned appreciation and am truly grateful to be alive.
And I hope that you—presumably someone who hasn’t survived two rolls across the interstate but has incurred other various perils—will take a moment to reflect on how truly precious life is, regardless of the curve balls it serves up sometimes.
Do it the very next time you get a chance because one of your next action—even something as routine as changing lanes—could be your last in the fragility of life.