This morning I was up at 4:15am and headed down to the lobby of my hotel to catch a ride to the airport. I was just outside of Charlotte and had a 7am flight to Memphis, so I scheduled a ride for 5am. I got down to the lobby at 4:55am and found the driver, Jerry, waiting for me which was a nice surprise since usually these services run a little late. After helping me with my bags, Jerry got us going. It was early but both of us were wide awake so we made small talk about golf as we made our way up the on ramp of I-85 South.
About 10 minutes into our ride, we passed an 18-wheeler who was in the center lane. We were in the right lane. The next thing I knew, the semi clipped our car on the rear driver's side, sending us into a skid. Jerry jammed on the brakes as we skidded across two lanes heading for the cement divider. Our car had done a 180 and I noticed we were going to hit the wall on my side, right by my door. Luckily, Jerry was able to control the car enough so that we hit the wall at the back bumper of my side and the impact was minimal. We were somewhat safe.
Jerry asked if I was ok and I told him I was fine. The funny part was that I was a little scared at first but it didn't last long. I knew we were going to hit the wall but I knew it wouldn't be bad. My fear was erased at impact and a new fear set in - the fear of missing my flight and having to cancel all of my appointments for the day. That's pretty effed up. Jerry called the police and then called his co-worker to come meet us and get me to the airport. In that short span of about five minutes the driver of the 18-wheeler, who had originally pulled over, took off.
I was uncomfortable with our position because we were facing oncoming traffic on a highway. I asked if the car would start and Jerry gave it a shot. It started up and he straightened us out and then called highway patrol to get them on the lookout for the trucker that hit us. We surveyed the damage on the car and it didn't look that bad. When traffic died down for a minute, I said we should try to get to a safer spot on the other side of the road and Jerry agreed. The car was in good enough shape to get us across the highway to the breakdown lane where we were able to stay safe until the police arrived.
The patrolman took our info and had us write up a statement explaining what had happened. I wrote a nice detailed description because I really wanted to make sure that Jerry was not found at fault. It definitely wasn't his fault. I was also grateful that his instincts kept us from really getting smashed up and that he had called and arranged for a co-worker to get me to the airport so I could have a chance of making my flight.
I'm sitting at my gate now, safe and sound thanks to a stranger. It makes me think about how I basically put my life in the hands of strangers every day on the road, whether it be a cabbie, driver, or pilot, trusting that they will keep us both safe. The driver got me here safe but not without difficulty. Hopefully the pilot will do the same!