That Sickening Feeling I Can’t Shake

I doubt the feeling will ever go away. It’s a sickening feeling that sends a chill down my spine. I grit my teeth as the experience flashes before my eyes.

And it happens each time I pull into the garage and exit my car. It’s like a bad nightmare that becomes more engrained each time I think about it. I’m sure blogging about it won’t help either.

Nearly 9 years ago we lived in our first home in Woodinville, WA. We loved the huge trees that surrounded our small red house and the privacy our cul-de-sac afforded. Our home sat on a hill, and each morning I’d drive down through the morning fog that covered the roads and fields like a gigantic down pillow.

Seldom was I in a hurry. And even if I was late to work, I didn’t speed. Why rush my drive through the clouds? It was one of the few peaceful times of my day aided by the absence of traffic. I’d roll down my windows to hear the roosters crowing.

But my return trip home was anything but peaceful. Lots of merging and stop and go traffic. The crowing was replaced by honking. Driver’s with short fuses produced a lot of waving of the one finger variety.

By the time I’d pull up our steep driveway and into the garage I’d be worn out. Back then I drove a black VW Passat with a 5-speed. It was the first car I bought when I moved to Seattle after realizing a rear-wheel drive Miata wasn’t suited for Seattle’s wet roads.

On this warm summer day, I jumped out of the Passat and noticed my garbage bin was at the end of the driveway. As I took a few steps down the hill I decided to turn around. I don’t know why I turned around. I don’t remember hearing anything. But I instinctively turned my body to the side at the very moment my car’s front bumper skimmed my hip. I wasn’t hurt but I couldn’t stop my car hurtling towards the street.

In that split second my heart sunk. I was helpless. A number of children lived in our neighborhood. It wasn’t uncommon to see people walking their dogs down our street. As my car picked up speed, I looked towards the road and assumed it would crash into the house across the street.

But as the rear wheels hit the street, the front wheels jerked hard to the left. My car was going so fast that it made a quick U-shape before turning back towards my next door neighbor’s home. At this point the back end of the car smashed into my their sturdy mailbox before slamming into two decorative trees.

I still stood there in my driveway. Too stunned to move. What if my car had hit a child playing basketball on the outdoor basketball hoop? Or a mother and father walking their dog? What if my car had sailed straight into my neighbor’s garage where their children often worked? What if I hadn’t turned around in that split second on my driveway?

Thinking about that afternoon gives me chills. The mailbox and trees were easily replaced. But my failure to engage the parking break could have caused unspeakable tragedy that day.

I wish I didn’t have to relive those feeling each time I get out of my car. But if it helps me reminder to use the parking brake then it’s a small price to pay.

4 thoughts on “That Sickening Feeling I Can’t Shake

  1. Reading this post gave me a similar feeling in my stomach and a lump in my throat. I know this feeling too well. Once, when driving to my parents house, I stepped on the gas before heading up their steep driveway, only to see that my mother was gardening with my 3 year old niece who had had wandered away. I saw her at the last possible second and swerved out of the way. I can't even think about what could have happened. It literally makes me sick. I am happy to hear that your situation also turned out well.


  2. I think of the number of people who experienced the same thing and still not take steps to correct it in the future. I think there's a great lesson in there about using the “parking brake” in other areas in our lives. I will be thinking about this one.


  3. I was getting into the car one day a few weeks back. My 3 year old daughter was walking beside the car. I started the car and took my foot off the clutch, to find that the car was still in gear. The car jerked forward about a foot from the original location. If Marisa had chosen to walk in front of the car instead of beside the car that day… Yeah – I know exactly what you're talking about.


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