|The soundtrack of my best car wreck|
I tell you this story as I have found myself recalling the days just before I left on my mission. So many of our friends have children, sons and daughters, who are getting their calls right now. Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Moscow are just a few of the places where these kids will be serving. It's pretty cool. So they are now busily preparing for what lies ahead.
In July 1985, like them, I was preparing to leave on my mission. I was off to the exotic locale called the Florida Ft. Lauderdale Mission, where I would be speaking Spanish. I was working 'til right before I left. On that typically soul-crushingly hot Arizona afternoon, I was driving home from my shift at a retail store on Scottsdale's then-pseudo swanky Fifth Avenue (let's just say it ain't what it used to be), where I'd spent my morning listening to wealthy women grouse about the heat as they decided what imported piece of European handicraft they needed for their home. I was excited to get home. Since I only had a couple more weeks at home, it meant an afternoon in the pool.
Pepsi nestled between my legs, and Tina Turner was belting it out from the cassette lodged in the after-market stereo that I was convinced made the Honda cool (I was horribly mistaken). Why was the Pepsi where it was? Um, because this was nearly 30 years ago, and cars did not have 97 cupholders. The particular Honda I had had exactly none. Besides, it was hot, wicked hot, and a strategically placed cold can of soda is an absolute miracle worker.
Anyway, I was less than a mile from home and Tina was at full tilt with, ironically, "Let's Stay Together," when I saw the west-bound convertible a few ticks ahead of my north-bound vehicle and I knew said convertible was going to blow the stop sign. The driver apparently thought it would be better to use my Civic as a stop sign and in a split second, I'd been t-boned on the passenger side.
The force of the accident knocked me out briefly. As I came to, thinking I was dead, I could still hear Tina going on about staying together and I thought, 'Holy Crap! How cool! Tina is the welcome music here.' Then I felt the liquid pouring down my head and as I began to move and the pain tsunami erupted, I knew I wasn't dead. The liquid? Yeah, that was the Pepsi that had exploded all over me. The pain? That would be the cracked collar bone, ribs, and spinal bend I'd enjoyed. I do recall getting out of the car and having the presence of mind of telling the lady who'd hit me that she'd picked the wrong person to hit (thank you, lawyer father). I was stupid enough to refuse medical help from the paramedics, which led to a very unfortunate pain-medication induced visit to a slew of doctors the next day.
The Honda was totaled. In the end, I was OK. The first couple of weeks of the MTC experience were interesting with pain meds. I still wonder though if Tina will be there to sing me in when my time comes. I could think of worse things.