Saturday, February 12, 2011

the kindness of strangers

It was a very surreal day.  I was on my way to my new volunteer gig after taking Lu to the dog park. After I entered Post, I was taking the same route I always take.  On military posts/bases I always drive under the speed limit, stop extraordinarily long at all stop signs, and stop for everyone passing the road.  Those military police will pull you over for anything!  As I drove past the hospital, time slowed. My car veered sharply to my left and I started to spin towards the two lanes of oncoming traffic, then into the ditch. I remember thinking, "Oh no, I can't stop! oh no- I'm headed towards those lanes- I'm not stopping- I'm going to roll in that ditch past that bridge and into the water. " In a desperate plea, I called out, "Oh God, oh God!"  I stomped the brake and braced myself for impact.  I did not roll into the bridge, or the water for that matter.  However, I was completely turned around and stuck in the ditch about a meter away from a light pole.

Two men came running over and although it seemed like minutes instead of seconds I was out of breath by the time they reached me. "Are you okay?!" "Yes. Oh my God, who am I gonna call?!" Tears streaming down my numb face. "It's okay, the police are here. I saw you, you didn't do anything wrong, you didn't break any laws, nobody was hurt, it's gonna be okay. Just breathe. Try to calm down." "An angel must have been watching over you." Multiple police officers kept coming over and repeating the same information about calling around for the traffic personnel. One informed me, I could call my insurance company and get a tow truck, try to dig my truck out of the 2 1/2 feet of snow, or call a friend with a truck.  About two weeks ago, on our way to go on a hike with some friends, our belt broke on the truck and we had to get it towed. I didn't know if we could still get a tow with AT&T, or could even afford the fee they might charge. Considering all the men that have trucks are gone to training, that wasn't an option. I can't even call Graham for another couple of weeks. "I guess I have to dig it out. Do you think it will even work?" I mumbled.  He walked away and came back a few minutes later with the news that a stranger had stopped and offered to pull me out with his dooly/duly/duley (??). He pulled me out of that awful ditch and I thanked him and waved to the kind officers. I am so grateful to the men that stopped after I crashed, the police officers who reassured me every step of the way, and the men who towed me out.

I wish I could say that was the first time I have been towed, but I'd be lying. The first time, was when the roads were black and I was told to come to work anyway. I made it there safely, but upon trying to leave, I slid upon solid ice (going 5 miles an hour!) into a ditch. My boss' brother in law pulled me out. The next day she called off work. The second time, Graham and I were looking for our current cabin and kept getting lost. He was turning around and backed off into a ditch. The snow here is pretty deceptive! The person living down the road pulled us out, and several strangers stopped to help. This Tuesday I pulled out from the cabin and got stuck in a ditch (deceptive snow again!). After calling a few friends and my father, a middle aged man rolled down his window and offered to help.  I have been towed now 5 times by strangers (6 counting the belt incident!), twice in this week and I have never been more renewed in faith of our mankind.  I have never been a bad driver, but am afraid of driving now. Alaska is a scary place to drive! Why I was flipped around is still confusing, those who saw it said the roads haven't been gravelled enough or that one of the truck wheels stuck when I hit some ice. I have four wheel drive and just put new brakes in. I could have hit that light, rolled into that bridge, or even hit some oncoming traffic. But I didn't. I don't know how, but I truly feel He was watching out for me today and it kind of puts everything into perspective.

When Graham backed into a ditch and tried to reverse out of it.
First step on the to do list? Buy a tow strap and pay some of that kindness forward.


  1. Oh my God, Sarah, I'm so glad no one got hurt! Driving accidents - even the most mundane ones - are so terrifying. And you're right, there are a lot of good, really kind people in this world. It's just the handful of bad apples that make us think otherwise. Be safe!

  2. That would be so scary! So glad you're okay!

  3. :( I wish I was still there for things like this. I'm so sorry! Don't forget, you totally paid it forward when we stopped when we were late for Harry Potter and got out to help those boys push their truck out of the ditch! ha Good times.

  4. Carol- so true!
    Jamie- thanks, me too!
    Kacy- lol! I almost forgot about that!