Chocolate Can Kill You

Just when you think your life could not get any better, the Great One Above throws you (literally or not) for a loop that causes you to think upon your life, yourself, and your “little” obsession with a thing called chocolate. I am somewhat ashamed of this story because of the cause but it taught me so much and jostled something within me that said “Hey, You could not be here but I need you to be.” I still remember Alisa’s face when I came crying into the Valley City gym, I can hear Dad’s echoing “Are you OKAY?” consistently in my mind as if it had been a childhood scolding, and I see the image of the snow coming at me at 70mph every time I drive on a highway now.

In the year of nineteen ninety-seven, the morning after Valentine’s Day, following the romantic encounter with my boyfriend of then a year (how perfect a coincidence to have this event occur in), I took off to see my sister in Valley City. She was there because of a wrestling meet. She is one of their prized assistants and without her they would never get to see how goofy they look in tights entangled on the floor with another human being. It was a crisp morning and I cannot remember if I filled the Bronco’s tank, but I did get a Twix bar and perhaps two cinnamon-raisin biscuits from Hardees. I drove onto I-29 at around ten and just as I proceeded right out of town on I-94, I remember the thought slipping into my mind that “Gee a seat belt would be good,” even though the roads were as clean as they could have been in a North Dakota February and on a cold ten degree Saturday morning, I met up with no one on the highway.

I was just bee-bopping along the left side of the road, because it is the smoothest, listening to the radio and singing aloud as if I was Mariah Carey, and eating my first Twix bar. In an attempt at a different radio station or something or another, I dropped the last bar (those slippery wrappers!) between my legs onto the floor of the black beastly bronco (who just that winter had gotten a brand new transmission and had four wheel drive now ONLY in reverse,of course).

This is where I become a stupid human being unknowing taking my life. I tried to recapture the chocolate bar thinking, or maybe not even thinking, “It will only take me a second.” Well whoever has said that seconds count in any accident WAS RIGHT! All of a sudden I am driving 70 mph into the median snow drifts. I actually thought I could drive back up onto the road so I cranked the wheel but I had to remember I am not Superwoman and at the same moment I mumble a few choice swear words and realize I am going 70 MPH IN A VERY DEEP SNOWDRIFT! I take my foot off the accelerator and while the front end slows almost to a stop, the back end has accumulated too much energy or velocity (a good physics question) and begins to lift upwards. I close my eyes, cross my arms across my chest, and crouch back into my seat and start to feel the bronco as well as myself turn and twist and hover for what seemed an eternity in slow motion like you see on TV. I do not remember what I was thinking and Jason wishes I would have actually seen what had occurred. I do not. And then all of a sudden the small jolted car lands-ploop- ON ITS WHEELS! My chair has completely reclined to sleeping mode and I sit up seeing smoke come from my engine. I forget how to work my car and instinctively get out as if to show God I am alive. I stand on top of the drift becoming taller than my boxy 4x4. There are small dents in the front where you would open the hood but that is the biggest damage I can see.

“Are you OKAY?” An old couple are parked and honking at me from the other side
of the highway going towards Fargo. They tell me to come with them and turn off the
engine. I do so and grab my large made for North Dakota parka and make my way through the snow to sit down in the back seat of the long car and take in that old people smell. This is when I cry. And this is where I begin to uncontrollably shake and try to BELIEVE much less figure out what just happened.

“You did a flip. It’s amazing you walked away from it.” says the old man and I think to myself sarcastically to calm down “Yeah I tried to do that, only a 5.0 on my scale though, thanks.” while saying “thank you” to them and asking them to take me to Valley City trying not to sound three and a half. Another major thought echoes “What will Dad say?”

They turned around at the next available bridge which was a mile away and the lady told me the exit so I could give it to the people that will tow my little bruised bronco and the highway report people. They talked to themselves as I tried to think of what exactly happened, how glad I was to be alive, and how I felt about it. Once inside the gymnasium I found Alisa’s eyes and she instantly frowned and looked scared.

“Did you and Jason fight?” No, I try to say but I am crying in front of a large crowd who all seem more interested in me now then the matches. I sit down beside her and say:

“I did a flip......the bronco..... flipped ..... it did a 360.”

“The bronco did a WHAT! ARE YOU OKAY!” She panics. I go to call Dad as she tells her friends and they also feel sympathetic and are quite amazed. I don’t know how I managed to remember my calling card number but I reached Mom and Dad just waking up. Once again Dad frightens me with his voice and vows to be there as soon as possible and tells me to call the highway people. I also called Jason at work. Still capable to remember the number at Sunmart, and asked him to call a tower in Fargo for me, he accepted with no problem and sounded horribly worried since he couldn’t actually see me to make sure my body parts were all in the correct places. I was the only accident that whole day on the highway I think and those people knew my name by heart. And to try to repeat what happened thirteen times exhausted me.

Mom and Dad showed up an hour later (it is supposed to take at least two but hey no one was on the roads anyways). Mom was half awake and Dad looked like he’d been downing coffee left and right. They had seen the bronco being towed as they drove but it was towed wrong so Dad feared the transmission was screwed up again much less the rest of the car. We took off for Fargo and stopped at the spot seeing the tracks lead into the snow, then 25 feet of no tracks and suddenly a large indentation where the bronco had sat down. I slept from so much shock after a discussion on what to do if the bronco was of no use now.

Jason met us at the Mobile on I-29 and Dad jumped into the bronco to try to start it. It revved right up. I shook my head and thought of the motto- Built Ford Tough. Only the alignment and steering was off from me trying to turn it back onto the road and the steam I had seen was the radiator fluid splashing onto the hot engine.

We had to meet with a highway patrolmen so the bronco could get a sticker and photos could be taken. I also, fortunately for the tax payers, had to pay a Care of Vehicle bill of thirty dollars which means that the government basically can fine you for trashing your own vehicle. This pissed me off incredibly after a day like I had just had. My mom had to remind me though that at least it wasn’t a medical bill.

The highway patrolmen reminds me how valuable it was that I had had a seat belt on because I would have for sure gone through the windshield with that type of event and all the tossing that I had endured. That does not make replaying this event in my memory any better. As if God was saying- “No, not yet.” Maybe his voice was the one telling me to put the seat belt on because I admit I sometimes didn’t. But now I do.

I remember someone saying that I was an angel. Jason’s dad called me an acrobatic daughter to my father and every so often Alisa reminds me with the nickname Twix girl. I now have my grandfather’s old “used for golfing” car. How ironic that it looks almost exactly like the one the old people picked me up in. Alisa gets to use the bronco now in the beast’s last days of survival. I pooped her, the bronco, out I think with my driving and the accident probably shook her up as much as it did me. I am incredibly grateful for my life now and for the people that came to my aid, especially my parents for spending their whole Saturday with me and Jason. Whether we were trying to contact the highway patrolman, paying the tower and the ticket, or comforting me- they never complained. They also even treated Jason and I to Paradiso after all that.

It was an experience I will be able to tell my grandkids to make them buckle up and also it is a reminder to me to live each moment the best I can because the next day I might eat chocolate and do a flip into heaven.