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Ryan Berg Finished What the Light Pole Could Not

March 23, 2007

“Your car is a total loss,” is what Kasey said to me Tuesday morning. Kasey is the manager of the Thoroughbred Collision Body Shop in West Seattle.

It was a random Monday night and I was driving home from work. It was raining and traffic was moving slowly. Cruising in the left lane, the traffic by the Southcenter Mall backed all the way for a half mile from the exit. This was unusual and in the six months of driving, I had never seen this. Traffic will slow near the exit because two lanes merge onto 405 and if 405 is fucked, traffic will back up onto I-5. Even if traffic backs up to I-5 the left lane will still move at normal speed.

Except Monday night. This time, traffic slowed all the way to the left lane and stopped quickly. I put on my brake and slowed to a complete stop. I looked into the rearview mirror because I knew how close the black truck behind me was following. And I knew at that moment, I was going to be hit.

From the pictures (see below), it doesn’t look like my car would be totaled. It looks like the backend could be fixed and I would be on my way. But there was much more serious damage. The frame was bent all the way to the engine.

With the impact, my glasses flew off my face. My body jerked violently against the seatbelt with such force that it hurt the next day. And I sat in my car shocked about what had just happened. NPR still played in the background. No broken glass. No broken taillights. The black truck that hit me was also rear-ended, flew around me, and came to a complete stop in front of my battered Toyota. The white truck that hit him was smashed pretty good and came to a stop directly behind me. I reached for my phone and called 911.

By the time the operator transferred me to the State Patrol, an officer had rolled up. Ryan Berg who I found to be strangely striking and well cut, got out of his early-to-mid 80s pickup truck and asked me if I was okay. I nodded.

There is no good time to be rear-ended. It is something you never expect. It is truly like those Jetta commercials you see on TV. You see two people having a random conversation and out of now where everything changes. While I was alone in the car, I was listening to an NPR story, thinking about the meatball calzone I was going to eat and mentally preparing myself for the next day. And like in the Jetta commercial, everything changed.

Now four days later, I have a rental car, my loan has been paid off from Toyota and I am looking for a new car. It is not often in life you get to start completely over. And now with my car completely totaled, I get that new start. The possibilities are endless and the excitement of buying a new car is great. Don’t get me wrong, I will miss my car greatly. It was my first big purchase. It had leather seats, power windows, a sunroof, six disc cd player and only 63,000 miles.

I cannot help but think it was fate. I mean, if I hadn’t moved my car during that windy night in December, it would have been completely totaled from the fallen light pole. It was spared by 20 minutes. My car cheated fate once but ultimately that random Monday night did her in. I didn’t get my rental car until Tuesday afternoon and I had a lunch meeting in downtown Seattle earlier in the day. And as it would turn out, this lunch meeting would be her last drive, unceremoniously returning from REI in downtown. They towed her away the next day, with my UW Alumni license plate holder still attached.

This photo is actually posted in my October 30, 2005 blog entry. After almost two years together, this is our only picture of us together. Photo taken on October 29, 2005.

This photo is actually posted in my October 30, 2005 blog entry. After almost two years together, this is our only picture of us together. Photo taken on October 29, 2005.

This is another photo taken that day. Kelli and I were on the Seattle to Vashon Island Ferry to a classmates Halloween Party. Photo taken on October 29, 2005.

This is another photo taken that day. Kelli and I were on the Seattle to Vashon Island Ferry to a classmate's Halloween Party. Photo taken on October 29, 2005.

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