As much as we wish we could control every scenario in our lives and be sure we are prepared for what comes next, we cannot ever predict the unexpected. There are certain aspects of our lives that we cannot control: accidents, illnesses, unemployment. The list goes on and on. When we face those situations, we are left wondering what we could have done recently. And yes, I am one of those people. I faced an incident this week and am still wondering, “how do you go back to work after an accident?”
Most employees drive their car to work. Driving down the same road back and forth every day at least five times a week, sometimes more and others less. They wake up in the morning, drive to work, get their job done, and drive home. It is a routine many of us are a part of. We get used to it. We do it with our eyes closed … metaphorically, of course. No one wants to drive with their eyes closed.
Like most employees, I drive my car to work. I drive my car twice a week to my big girl office, and four to five times a week, I drive to my second job. Every night I drive back home around 11 PM when traffic is a little less crazy, and most of the population is already at home unwinding from the day. I am used to this routine. I know this routine better than I know myself. But what happens when something shakes that routine up, and you are left facing the unexpected?
On November 9, I was driving home from work at 10.58 PM — trust me, I will not forget the time or date — when I became the victim of a hit-and-run. Another driver tried to change lanes and, I am assuming, did not see my car. The red SUV — yes, I will not forget the color either — crashed completely against my new car, the driver waved at me before driving away, and I was left on the side of the road crying until 1 AM.
I cried a lot. I cried when I called 911. I cried when two cops showed up. I cried on the phone to my mom. I cried when I called my insurance company. I cried in the shower when I got home. I cried as I tried to fall asleep to all the pain in my body.
The accident itself shook me to the core. I was utterly lost, sad, angry, and scared. How could anyone ever cause so much damage and simply drive away? I will never understand that.
As I sat in my car on the side of the road, waiting for everything to be figured out so I could get a police report and go home, I thought about work. Crazy, right? I thought about how I would have to let my big girl job know that I would not be able to work the next day because I would have to deal with police reports, claims, body pain, and figuring out where to take my car. I thought about how I would have to call out of my second job because my body hurt too much to pick up a tray, and I could not drive there. Isn’t it inhumane that something terrible happens to us, but we are worried about work? There were so many other things I should have been thinking about, but work was my number one priority. Yes, crazy.
My car is at the shop now, and I will probably have to Uber to work, but at least I am alive, and no physical harm was caused. The consequences are not visible. Yes, my car does have visible marks of the accident. But the worst part is the thoughts in my head. Thinking about how if I had left work a few minutes earlier or a few minutes later, I would not have been there at that time. How I had only made one payment on my car before someone else decided to crash into me. How I could not stop crying myself to sleep after the accident. All traces of the accident that no one gets to see.
We want to control everything that happens to us to ensure there are no surprises, tragedies, or unexpected events. However, life does not work like that. Life will shake you up when you least expect it and leave you wondering, “how do you go back to work after an accident?” when all you wanted to do was get home safely.