*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
I got married at nineteen and had my first car accident a few months later at the age of twenty. My then-husband and I didn't have much of an apartment. We lived in a cockroach-riddled one-bedroom in the basement of a trashy building with stained carpets and torn window screens in every room. That will be important later.
One afternoon, I went shopping and then stopped at my parents' house for a visit. By the time I headed home, it was starting to get dark and it was raining.
Unfortunately, I'd worn my prescription sunglasses, and I couldn't see with them in the falling light. I couldn't see without them, either. My vision was 20/200 in one eye and 20/100 in the other.
I drove home with both hands gripping the steering wheel and my nose nearly touching the windshield. Halfway back to the dismal apartment I shared with my husband, I got t-boned at an intersection. I did not have the right of way.
Here's how it happened. I looked to my right. The car going straight with no stop sign had stopped to wave me through the busy intersection.
I looked to my left. Despite my poor vision, I could see that the car going straight with no stop sign had their blinker on. According to the blinking light, they were turning right. Great, I thought. I can go.
They did not turn right.
I pulled into the intersection, and the elderly couple in their Toyota Camry plowed into the side of my car. No one got hurt. I'm glossing over the rest of the details on purpose because it's a story for another day. After all, this isn't about me crying over my car in the middle of a busy intersection. It's about what happened next.
The elderly couple had some damage to the front of their car. My car had its front axle knocked off its axis. Their car was still drivable. Mine was not. They graciously offered to drive me home. I accepted.
When we pulled up to my apartment building, they insisted on walking me inside to my apartment to make sure I was okay and tell my husband what had happened. I unlocked the door to the apartment and opened it to reveal our kitchen/living room/dining room with its single card table, torn secondhand sofa, stained carpet, and two metal folding chairs.
My husband was sitting in one of the metal folding chairs playing guitar, poorly. He didn't look up.
He didn't look up when I opened the door, or when two strangers followed me into the apartment, or when they spoke to him, explaining we'd just been in an accident but we were all okay. He just kept strumming his guitar.
I looked around the room and saw it the way these two strangers must have seen it, and I felt ashamed.
Why would you want to Buy Me a Coffee? I am a full-time writer and a full-time unpaid caregiver to my 84-year-old father, who lives with Parkinson's. 100% of your tip or donation goes toward paying for my dad's groceries. Thank you.