Mandatory Time Out

little houseAfter years of driving back and forth from California to Arizona to see our grandkids, Muri and I have our departure routine down pat.  We get up on the day we’re leaving, have a leisurely breakfast, then clean up our Little House.  Muri does the kitchen and the tile floors, I do the vacuuming and the bathrooms.  Once the chores are done, we take turns showering … me last so I can clean the shower, then we load the car.  We turn up the air conditioning to a toasty 86house degrees and turn the water heater to Vacation.  We leave about at 11:30, first stopping for gas then for lunch at Paradise Bakery, each getting a large ice tea for the six an a half our drive to our Big House.  I drive until we reach the first Interstate 10 Rest Area, and after Muri and I stretch our legs, she drives to Blythe, just over the California border.

On Tuesday, however, shortly after Muri started driving, everything changed.   The traffic up ahead was at a dead stop.   After fifteen minutes, nothing had moved.   Gradually, drivers began emerging from their cars and gathering on TRUCKSthe shoulders, looking to see what was up ahead.   I grabbed the binoculars that I keep in my backpack and joined them.  About a quarter mile up the road, an eighteen wheeler was broadside across all westbound lanes.  The eastbound lane was also blocked by one or two vehicles upside down on the pavement. For the next hour, ambulances, fire trucks and tow trucks raced by on the the shoulders.  It was almost three hours before the semi was cleared and we were able to proceed, a few vehicles at a time.   As we drove by, we could see that the cab of the jack-knifed truck had caught fire and a second eighteen wheeler was lying on its side by the road.

So often, we go through life, thinking everything will go according to plan.  We expect to leave on time and arrive on time.  We think we are in control then life gives us a Mandatory Time Out, a lesson in disguise.  At eighty miles per hour, we would have traveled to the site of the crash in about eleven seconds.  If we’d left our Little House a half a minute earlier, we’d have sailed home obliviously on schedule.  If we’d left ten seconds earlier, we might have participated in the collision.  As it was, we arrived home three hours late, exhausted and a bit goofy from ten hours in the car but safe and sound.  Life is good.  On the internet, I would learn that one eighteen-wheeler had rear ended a pickup truck in the east bound lane then careened across the wide center divider and struck another semi headed west.  The article did not say whether or not there were injuries but it is hard to believe there weren’t given the damage to the vehicles.  The lesson of our Mandatory Time Out is that life is fragile and precious, that we should value every second because every second can make a difference.

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One Comment on “Mandatory Time Out”

  1. cherperz Says:

    Every time I hear about someone’s tragedies, I can’t help but think that they woke of that morning thinking that day would just be another day…uneventful, routine, happy (hopefully). But one minute can change everything.

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