It's the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and today I was driving from Phoenix towards Los Angeles on the I10 desert highway, where the sun burns hot even in late November. The Arizona leg of the trip featured shredded tires and roadkill all along the shoulder. There was a fifty-odd mile stretch of road along Joshua Tree National Park where cars were hopelessly attracted to each other. We passed the aftermath of three or four serious accidents, one including a car that too closely resembled the teenage Toyota Corolla I was driving, except that it was upside down and spread across two lanes of the highway. I purposefully followed an idle Ambulance for several miles before traffic separated us.
... the sun disappeared, eclipsed by a mammoth RV passing me on my left. Soon it also obscured the road beside me, as the pleasurecraft drifted over and began pressing against my door. It was unfased as my rear-view frame crumpled and fell off, like a discarded piece of paper, the mirror shattering and raining down onto hot cement. I watched in disbelief as the situation unfolded. I somehow had the good sense to not swerve away, where I would have been met by another equally hostile, yet innocent, third party. After what I can only guess was about five seconds of friction, the road became visible again as the RV moved away, and I honked several times out of anger and a desire to intiate post-accident protocol.
When I came to a stop, I pushed at the door and it wouldn't open - the collision had bent some part of its hinge and rendered it unfit for opening, which is a pretty essential part of its job. So I crawled out of the passenger side. I was trembling. The last time I had felt like this was during an attempted robbery in Argentina, and remembering that event allowed me to focus and regain my composure.
The driver was a retired California Highway Patrol officer with a Louis CK face but without the sense of humour. He apolized for not seeing me in his blind spot. We exchanged contact information and he helped clip off the remainder of the rear-view that dangled by wire, at my request. I drove to the next exit and took a breather in a fried-chicken joint, where I absent mindedly left my cell-phone-wallet (a single point of failure, I knew it would bite me one day but just so damned convenient). Traffic for the rest of the drive back was stop-and-go until LA itself.
So Noelia's car is damaged, although not irreparably so, my Sunday was spent almost entirely in a car, and I'm short a phone and a couple of plastic cards. It could have been so much worse. This Thanksgiving Weekend, my first ever in America, I am thankful that Noelia, Cynthia, and myself were fortunate enough to emerge from that stretch of highway in good health.