It's Thanksgiving, and I can't possibly be more thankful. Yesterday, I got that call no mother ever wants to get. Okay, not so much a call, as a text. Here's the deal. The Pony left Norman, Oklahoma, at 7:00 a.m. to start his considerable drive home. He had instructions to keep me posted as to his whereabouts, whenever he stopped for gas or food. He's a good egg, that Pony. He started with breakfast at McDonalds right there in Norman, and then hit the road.
At 10:03, The Pony informed me that he had just stopped for gas in Muldrow. Hick and I didn't know where that was, and The Pony's response was, "Along I-40." Which didn't help. I knew he was going by his Garmin (which is a GPS, in case you didn't know, manufactured by the company Genius had an internship a couple summers ago, and is going back to this summer), and would get here when he got here.
Hick was expecting him to take the Hick route, which is always different, and included a turnpike stint last trip. He was kind of in a snit, searching for that town out on the porch with his cell phone (chances are that we CAN'T hear you now, with our SPRINT service). So I asked The Pony how far he was out of Joplin, and The Pony said, "I don't know." Actually, he said, IDK. He further added that he was going on a route through Arkansas (which I enjoyed but not Hick) to avoid the turnpike, and that his ETA was around 5:00.
I was shoulder-deep in food preparation, and secure in the knowledge that my little Pony was on the way, and would be here just around dark. The night before I'd had that anxious feeling, like before my canceled casino trip, but told myself to calm down, it was normal to worry about your kid driving home from college in holiday traffic, and to stop dwelling on it. Which didn't really help much, but that busy food prep took my mind off of it, and I was in communication with The Pony intermittently, and couldn't wait for him to arrive. I'd set aside some deviled eggs for him to nosh on, and had picked up some cookies for him to try, and we'd sit in the basement and watch some Food Network, and chat like old times.
At 12:19, The Pony said he'd stopped at Steak N Shake in Joplin (don't go there if you value your time!) and that the Arkansas trees had been beautiful. As with each text, I signed off with "Love you. Be careful." And he said that he would. His new ETA when he left Steak N Shake was 5:30.
At 2:33, The Pony sent me a text that he was at the rest area halfway to Genius's college town. I knew it wouldn't be too long until he turned off I-44 and headed home on the last stretch of two-lane blacktop. I gave him my usual sign-off. I knew he was still on track to be here between 5:30 and 6:00. Hick was planning to go watch a basketball tournament, so I would have The Pony all to myself for a while.
I was jawing with Hick about things we might do while The Pony was home, and washing up the dishes I'd dirtied, when my phone buzzed with a text. It was 4:04. "Oh. That's probably him, saying he just turned off on the last stretch. Let's see." It WAS a text from The Pony.
"I just wrecked. I'm ok though, calling 911 now."
Well. My heart dropped into my stomach by express elevator.
"He's had a wreck! The Pony had a wreck, and he's calling 911. He says he's okay."
Hick immediately went out on the porch and started trying to call him. He finally got through, and we could hear the highway patrolman who had just showed up. The Pony later said that trooper had been about a mile behind him, and got there while he was still on the phone with 911. Other cars had stopped and their occupants walked over to The Pony to see if he was okay. He was getting ready to call AAA for a tow, but the trooper said it was only 10 miles into College Town, so to save those tow miles, since The Pony had a great distance to travel to school from home. He said our insurance would pick it up, no problem.
The Pony thinks he fell asleep. I think he is luckier than a PowerBall winner. Look at his poor Nissan Rogue.
Above, driver's side front. Hick said the motor was hanging out. This made it clear why, when he asked The Pony if the car was drivable, The Pony said, "Um. I don't think it's going anywhere."
Above, driver's side rear. At least it still has its tire.
Above, passenger side rear. Not gonna roll on THAT wheel.
Above, front end. The Pony said the windshield was barely cracked. And that his driver's door window is the ONLY ONE that did not break out. You can see a side air bag, but the driver's air bag did not deploy.
In case you're wondering how The Pony could possibly have beat this little car all to not-heaven, here's where it came to rest.
According to The Pony, he was driving along with the cruise control set on 70 (the legal speed limit). The next thing he remembers, he was headed for those railroad tracks in the background. He went partway up the incline, then the car turned left. The Pony doesn't remember turning the wheel, or hitting the brakes. He hit a wooden railroad pole that looks like a short telephone pole (can't see it, behind the big trunk) and ran through a bunch of thin bendy trees, where the car slowed enough to stop.
He thinks he fell asleep.
I was handling it while waiting for Hick to go rescue him. Even though Hick could not call him back. Only got voice mail. As did Genius, who was on deck to go pick him up from the place where he was towed. As did I, until an hour later, when he finally answered my text, saying his phone had been dead, and then calling Genius with the location. Genius was going to take him to his college house, but Hick was only 10 miles away by then. I shudder to think how fast he drove. Yes, I was handling it just fine, until I saw this picture. 70 mph off-road, headed up that railroad embankment...he could have flipped, he could have hit that big tree head-on, he could have had a limb pierce the windshield and his brain. He could have veered left, and pin-balled into other cars or semi trucks.
Yes, The Pony was wearing his seat belt. Yes. He got hurt.
The Pony suffered a scratch on his little finger. Right hand. THAT'S IT. No other car involved. No passenger. No paralysis. No dismemberment. No brain injury. Just a tiny scratch on his right pinky finger.
Val is very thankful today.