Thursday, July 28, 2011

Big Rigs, Spoonman and Freeway Gridlock

I can't remember exactly how the conversation came about but a few days ago, I was talking to a co-worker and 18 wheelers came up. That reminded me of the time I was hit by one and I had to tell her about it.

The year was 1994 and it was a Friday. Back then I had a job that had pretty cool work hours. We worked  9 hour days, Monday through Thursday and 4 hours on Friday. I loved that schedule as I always knew when I wasn't working and could schedule appointments easily. I would always schedule my hair appointments on Fridays. So on one particular Friday early afternoon back in 1994, I was making the commute (yeah, my hairdresser at that time was not close by) to the appointment. It was really like any other Friday commute to get the hair done, traffic moved OK and then the dreaded gridlock on the LA freeway known as Interstate 10.

Back then I drove a Pontiac Fiero. I loved that car. It was a dark cherry red with light grey interior. In retrospect, I don't know why I had to have that car as I am much too tall for a sports car. I would nearly bend in half just getting things out of the very small trunk! Plus, I wear heels so getting in or out of that car was always an adventure. I must have looked like an Amazon woman crawling out of that tiny vehicle. Add to that, the fact that SUVs were the newest phenomenon and caused major "visibility" issues on the road for those of us driving "low to the ground" vehicles!

So there I was, that early Friday afternoon, in my sports car on Interstate 10 sitting in gridlock, and almost at my exit. I was in the slow lane and had the radio blasting and the window rolled down. I still remember the song that was playing on the radio. It happened to be a song by a band I loved, Soundgarden, called Spoonman.

As the traffic inched forward, I glanced into my side view mirror and was pretty scared! All I could see was a huge rubber tire. The tire of a big rig. A big 18 wheeler, and I knew it was almost on top of me! I guess I did what anyone in that situation would have done - braced myself, held the steering wheel tight, and screamed as the big monster hit my little car. Thank God for guard rails as they did stop any possibility of my going off a cliff (okay, not a huge drop but still a drop). My car was pushed by the impact of that big machine and I pushed hard on the brake and tried to control the steering wheel, again, all while screaming. To this day I can't really understand how helpful the screaming was!

The good thing was that we were not moving fast so I was able to get the car to stop and didn't smash into the guardian angel guard rail! I managed to stop in the shoulder just moments away from my off ramp and wait for the truck to pull up behind me.  I almost couldn't get out of my car as my legs were rubber at that point and all I wanted to do was chain smoke cigarettes to calm my nerves. It was hard to open my driver's side door as it was damaged from the impact, but I got out and was standing there on the side of the freeway, while weird guys drove by yelling cat calls! Oh please. How about pulling over and offering to help instead of yelling unwanted shit! A little observation - that is not cool or appreciated, guys!

Anyway, the truck driver was just as freaked out as I was. He was a working stiff with a young family and just didn't see my tiny little car and tried to change lanes. It was an accident and nothing malicious. In conclusion, I decided to let his company take care of the repairs as I didn't want to contribute to the loss of livelihood for this young working man and his family by involving insurance companies. We exchanged information and I got to my hair appointment (a bit late). As I left my appointment and got back on the freeway, with my now jacked up car, I suddenly heard that scary big rig horn sound and looked, only to see the driver that hit me waving! He had made his delivery and was heading back to home base. Anyway, my car was repaired, I was given a rental and everyone was fine.


  1. Great story! You were so calm. Isn't it strange you still remember the music you played.
    I remember listening to Jamiroquai when I was booked for speeding.

  2. Amazing story and love the fact that you saw the driver again later - I bet you jumped when you hear that horn sound!

    And thank you for introducing me to the Spoonman track up to now I only knew Black Hole Sun.

  3. Of course, it would have been much more ironic if you had been listening to Soundgarden's "Fell on Black Days" when the events transpired, but I can imagine the pure fear of thinking this giant big rig is going to crush me like a bug! So glad you can laugh about it now:)

  4. Scary! I kept expecting for you to say that your little car fit perfectly right in between the big truck's front and back tires like in the movies and that you got by without a scratch. :)

  5. Sounds horrifying! Glad you made it ok!

    @arty you need to listen up on more Sound Garden dude.... they have a crap load of good songs that you are missing out on!!!!!!

  6. That's terrifying! I hate semis.

    I have a friend who was hit by a semi (entirely her fault, she's an awful driver) and she ended up in a coma for a week or so.

    Another person I know got smushed between two semis. He insists he was fine and didn't need the subsequent hospital visit , but his wife insists that he'd looked like a cone-head till the doctor's straighted things out :/