A Cautionary Tale

It was a dark and stormy night.

I had just spent a very pleasant few days visiting with my aunt and cousins in central California. I was on my way back north and should have stayed in Portland at my sisters’ house, but I wanted to get home. I was cruising along the inside lane of I-5—at pace with the traffic in the other lanes—about a mile south of the Interstate Bridge over the Columbia River. In this area there is a large reader-board spanning the highway. I checked it for “cautions” (say, an accident ahead, perhaps). This was precisely the wrong moment not to notice that the cars in my lane ahead were at a virtual standstill. They were moving, but only just enough so that their brake lights were not on.

I briefly (very briefly) hoped I could avoid a collision by squeezing by on the left. Unfortunately, the wet pavement, in combination with how hard I had to brake, did not allow the time or control to get over far enough. I clipped the driver-side rear corner of a Subaru Outback. The Subaru was able to limp over to the left curb. As you can see from the photo, my poor little Tacoma was not going anywhere except to a wrecking yard.

My wheels for the past 10 years. Bye, bye.

My wheels for the past 10 years. Bye, bye.

Fortunately, there were no apparent injuries at that moment. Since then, my back has been complaining, but I am reasonably certain it is just a pulled muscle. The other driver did say she banged her head pretty hard against the headrest. The Portland police officers who arrived on the scene were awesome; they issued no citation, and they got us off the highway pretty quickly, considering.

All in all, it could have been a lot worse. I could easily have been rear-ended myself, and, with a full tank of gas back there, I probably wouldn’t be here. Instead, an angel pulled up behind me and turned on her flashers. She was a sweetheart and provided a couple of much needed hugs.

I had full coverage for the Tacoma, but, as a 2001 with 175,000 miles, it will be very difficult for me to replace with whatever I get for it.

The reader-board that precipitated all this was only informing me how many minutes I likely had before reaching the I-205 interchange—useless information for me, and sadly, wrong.