| THOUGHTS AT THREE A.M.
by editor I forgot my name
Discussed this month: Everyone Is Free To Wear Seatbelts FallCon busy days and the passing of time
Ladies and Gentlemen of Fanzing: Wear Seatbelts. If I could offer you only one piece of advice for the future, seatbelts would be it. The long-term benefits of wearing seatbelts have been proven by scientists.
Here's why I'm telling you this (and ripping off the intro to "Everyone Is Free To Wear Sunscreen")
It's 3:00 at night and I'm putting the finishing touches on my review of Carmine Infantino's new book. I do my best writing at night, and I'm in the zone. It's a lengthy review, but I think my review is top-notch and I've finished everything I wanted to say. I'm polishing the last few sentences.
Suddenly, through the open window, there's the hideous screech of tires and the sound of glash shattering and metal crumpling. It sounds like it's two houses away, but I later find out it's five blocks away.
The lights flicker and all the power goes out.
And I can't remember when I last hit "save". When I really get into my writing, I tend to write paragraph after paragraph without hitting "save" because it disrupts the creative process.
So the power's out not just in our apartment but for blocks around. I stumble to the bedroom and wake up my wife. I grab the phone and dial 9-1-1 to alert an ambulance. After all, I had the fortune to be up at 3:00 AM; who knows if anyone else is calling for help yet?
Within minutes, ambulances, fire trucks and a dozen cop cars arrive on the frontage road by the highway, which I can see from my office. Then we hear a helicopter which comes in low over our house, sweeping the neighborhood with a spotlight, looking for a place to land. Melinda tells me that that's "Mayo One" and its only used for critical care victims. (The things you learn being married to a nurse at Mayo.)
We finally dressed and drove down to the highway to see if we could see the accident from the frontage road. Near as we can tell, someone swerved into a light pole, knocking out the electricity for the entire north side. (I be a lot of people were late to church today.)
The next day we drove back to look at the damage. It's shocking. Red spray paint indicates where the long tire treads cross into the oncoming lane, then onto the shoulder where it hit a large electrical pole. Various squares and circles in spray paint indicate where parts of the car were, marked "sun roof" and "tire" and "trunk". One says "front panel" then "front" is scribbled out and "rear" is written next to it. I'm not surprised that the cops had trouble identifying the parts; as we walk along Melinda picks up little twisted things on the ground and they turn out to be metal. Thick metal bent and torn in a way that metal that thick shouldn't be!
Glass, tail lights and other fragments are sprayed up the embankment onto the parking lot of a small business. We can't believe how far the glass flew after the vehicle had hit the pole.
A guy from Menards walks over and tells us how they were cleaning the store at 3:00AM last night and they heard the accident right before the electricity went out and they were stuck inside the store with no way to leave. (The doors are electric.) All they could do was wait for the manager to respond to the alarm, which was tripped when the power went out, and arrive to let them out. In the meantime, they could see the accident but couldn't do anything to help except to call the emergency vehicles. (I'm glad they did, since their call probably helped cops to get right to the scene. All I could do was notify them that it was somewhere in that direction.)
This guy fills us in on what happened.
The car was traveling down the frontage road (which is what you call a road running parallel to the highway that allows you to access the stores, restaurants and car lots that can be seen, but not accessed, from the highway), which is marked 30 miles per hour. Near as they can tell, the car had to be doing over 100 mph; given the prolonged length of the screech that I heard last night, that would have been my guess, too.
The occupants of the car were a guy and a girl, ages unknown but probably young.
The dude from Menards takes us from where we were standing (where the car hit the pole) and walks forward from there. And we walk and we walk until we reach a spray-painted section that says "body" and it has to be at least 50 feet from the car, probably 100 (I'm terrible at distances). I'm shocked, because up until then I'd just assumed that the drivers were inside the car until rescue workers arrived. I mean, what kind of moron doesn't wear seatbelts? Then he takes us another 30 feet or so and we find another mark where the other body landed.
I've never understood how someone can get thrown from a car when you've got the steering wheel practically in your chest. My guess is that it's not an easy way to exit the vehicle. I can't imagine that the driver lands too intact.
So folks wear your seatbelts.
It also helps if you don't speed down curvy sideroads at 100 miles an hour, watch where you're going and refrain from driving intoxicated but even if you're smart enough to not do such activities, you need to wear your seatbelts. Trust me, you do not want to end up where these people did namely, a hundred feet in front of your vehicle after hitting that windshield on your way out.
Kevin Voith and I had a hell of a lot of fun hanging out at FallCon in Minneapolis. We played Steven Conroy's on a laptop and had people dancing by our table!
I'll tell you more about FallCon in the next issue of Fanzing.
The writing challenge was extended because I've not had any time for working on my own fiction. Trying to find time to work on Fanzing plus launching my own web site and working on submissions for DC phew! There's just no time in the day.
And every now and then I think I need to just cut down on my time at the computer. But when would I find the time?
This column is © 2000 Michael Hutchison.
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