A wreck on I-94
by Dale DeVoss
This is a story about circles, or cycles, if you prefer. It starts at the end of the road, but as one road ends, another begins.
It was just before Christmas 2007. After twenty-five or so years in management in the automotive world, I had been driving a cab for three-and-a-half years. I had an early day, starting at 5 a.m. It was still dark half an hour later, when I got the order to take someone to the airport--ASAP. I drove to the address in a freezing drizzle.
It was a student heading home. Looking haggard, she explained that she'd had late exams, and with all the stress had also caught a cold. I swept her away, and we chatted amiably about the upcoming holidays.
Despite the horrible weather, the drive was going along nicely--until we got to the I-94-US-23 interchange. Then, all hell broke loose.
There was a horrible metallic sound, a wave of ice and snow, and then another vehicle crashed into my cab, slamming it against a bridge abutment. The airbag exploded and I gripped the wheel with a death hold. I felt totally helpless.
In a matter of seconds, it was all over. My cab was stopped in the middle lane of the highway. The smell of burning electricity and fuel filled the chilly air. I turned to my passenger. She was badly shaken up but said she was OK. The fleece I had on was smoldering; I put it out, then called my dispatcher. He would call a tow truck for my cab and another taxi to pick up my passenger.
Standing among the wreckage and backed-up traffic, I could hear the faint sounds of emergency vehicles approaching. Another damaged car was in the ditch. The driver told me that a car apparently lost control on a patch of black ice, struck him, and pushed his car into mine.
The whole scene now was like a movie set, with lights flashing and voices
yelling. A cab from another company came by in the now-long line of neck stretchers. He asked my passenger if she wanted to go with him on to the airport. She was anxious to get on her way, so I wished her well and retrieved her bag from the trunk. With tears coming down her cheek, she gave me a $20 bill and told me, "I hope things work out for you." A sweet angel in the horror of that moment.
It is a fact that you are eight times more likely to be in an accident if you drive a cab. The experience shook me to the point that I put away my cab license for good. Against a nightmarish backdrop of wrecked metal, sirens, flashing lights, and freezing drizzle, one phase of my life was finished.
Since then, I've published a short story and a novel. I have two more I'll be putting on the market next spring.
I still have a day job, working for a progressive recycling facility, but I feel that I have come full circle. I am sure that there will still be new roads ahead, but I am looking forward to the journey.
[Originally published in December, 2012.]