alpaca princess (renniekins) wrote,
alpaca princess

Short Chicago Trip

Today I drove the five hours to Chicago to visit with my brother and his family. I will be here until friday, spending Quality Time with my niece and nephew (and other family members too). I'm looking forward to having some solo auntie time, especially with the nephew. He is almost six now, and an interesting little fellow. We've never hung out just him and me before, so it will be good to get to know him better.

The drive went quickly and smoothly, although there was one scary part. I was only a little over an hour or so from my house, driving at my usual speed in the left lane (around 77mph). The road was crowded, but cars were moving steadily. Then I saw the car which was two vehicles ahead of me in my lane randomly start to pull onto the left shoulder. What? The car in front of me braked, and also swerved left. I had already started to brake, not knowing what was happening. As the car in front of me got out of my line of vision, I saw there on the road directly in front of me: furniture.

I only glimpsed it for a moment, and I was just starting to swerve when I hit it/ran over it. Whatever it was. I think it might have been a stuffed chair, or maybe an ottoman? I got it with the right front part of my car. There was a thud and I felt a big thump-thump, but my car kept on going unhindered. I looked in my rear-view mirror, and there was a dramatic spray of stuffing or feathers or something behind me.

I didn't have any time to react until it was all over. People joke about "you nearly gave me a heart attack", and I never really thought about what that meant until I felt my heart literally trying to explode out of my chest as my body reacted to the shock of that little experience. I could feel adrenaline coursing through my veins, making my fingertips tingle, and I was out of breath. Holy Cats! That was all kinds of scary.

I kept going, and the car seemed to be driving fine, so I think it's okay. I just kept driving, as there was really nothing I could do, and the car was functioning properly. There was no reason to pull over. Slowly I caught my breath and my body realized that I was fine, everything was fine. The rest of the drive was completely uneventful.

The weird thing is that I still had four hours left of the drive. Even though it was briefly terrifying, by the time I actually stopped for gas a couple hours later I had forgotten about it. I'd wanted to look at the front of my car, see if there are any marks on it, but didn't think about it until I was moving again. Then when I arrived at my brother's house I was so busy pulling my bag out and putting my electronics away that I forgot again. Now it's dark out. Tomorrow I'll remember to look at the poor car and see if it has anything more than stuffing-marks on it... hopefully not!

When I stopped for gas half-way there, I did what I always do. I got the pump started, flipped on the little clip to keep the gas flowing, then went inside the store. It was cold outside, and I had to go to the bathroom anyway.

As I did so, I mulled over the mild guilt I was feeling. They always say you are supposed to remain with your vehicle while you are putting gas in it. I hardly ever do, because it's boring. Also, what would be the purpose? If there were some kind of gas-pumping crisis, I wouldn't have any means to fix it and I wouldn't know what to do anyway. If there was a fire or explosion, the best thing to do would be to run away... and if I'm already away then I'm just that much better off.

That said, I always feel a bit guilty when I leave my gas pump unattended. I still do it anyway, but I feel slightly furtive about it.

Clearly this time I should have been using that time to expect the front bumper of my car for stuffing. But like I said: it was cold and my bladder was full. Those two issues were enough to make me forget the furniture-destroying incident of a few hours ago. I'll inspect the car tomorrow.

...if I remember, that is! I'll be busy taking my nephew to the museum of science and industry, so it might slip my mind again. That's okay, science museums are more fun than car inspections anyway.
Tags: family, travel
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