The first thing I want to do is offer my thanks to the driver who dented my car on I-75 Monday afternoon.
Let me explain.
I learned from my boss that day about that tragic tractor-trailer rollover crash that killed the truck’s driver.
All I knew at the time was there was a crash — so I elected to check things out to see what was going on.
I drove up the West Dixie Highway, debating whether to hit the interstate or drive U.S. 25 to London and pick up southbound I-75 instead to get to the crash site.
I understood the crash site to be on the northbound side of I-75, at approximately the 36 mile marker.
Coming to the light at 25E, I decided to gamble with the interstate.
Things went along fine, and I noticed the 35 mile marker — and realized I was getting close.
I rounded a curve and saw the three lanes of traffic beginning to slow.
It finally stopped.
I aimed for the right lane, with the intent of getting parked off the road so I could walk to the crash site.
All three lanes were at a complete standstill, so I looked for emergency vehicles, then entered the emergency lane in order to get my car parked and get started on my trek to the scene.
I followed the emergency lane until I found a place without a guardrail, so I could park my vehicle completely off of any paved roadway — just in case a law enforcement or other emergency vehicle needed access to the crash.
I parked off the road, and locked the doors — and started walking.
I couldn’t tell you how long I stood at that crash site — but I started walking back the mile-plus to my car minutes before the police opened the outside passing lane for travel.
I got to a point where I could see my vehicle — and noticed something that appeared out of order.
There were vehicles parked very close to my car in the emergency lane. My vantage point at the time showed me at least two were parked there.
Unconcerned but curious, I continued clomping along in my well-worn boots, listening to the heavy sounds of tractor-trailers as they began gearing up to travel again.
As I got closer, I could make out more cars behind the first two — several more cars — and all of them were stopped as though they were in another travel lane.
When I got closer to the car, it was clear — I wasn’t going to be able to open the driver-side door to get into my own car. The driver of that vehicle — the first one in the line — was so close to my door I might have been able to slide my arm through.
Behind him, more than two dozen cars were lined up.
I got to the car and noticed it appeared crooked to the cars on the road. I also noticed the front bumper was touching a sign that was a few feet farther away when I parked the car.
I walked around the three sides of the car I could see — and in the back I noticed it.
There’s a crumpled dent in my bumper — with a smudge of metallic white paint.
My car is a dull gray.
Some inconsiderate driver (I can think of other, more descriptive adjectives, but this will do) smacked into the back end of my car trying to be first.
Listen, whoever you might be — if there are three lanes of stopped traffic, and several of those drivers in that stopped traffic are milling about the roadway outside of their vehicles, the chances are pretty good there’s no way you’re going anywhere.
Even in the emergency lane.
I stood beside my car, visibly shaking my head in disbelief that these drivers had opted to attempt the emergency lane in an effort to get somewhere faster.
Did logic not play in any of your brains?
And to boot, one of you knocked into my car — I can’t imagine what my poor dog felt as the car was rocked with her resting inside.
I’m sure you thought another dent in my old car didn’t really matter. And no, the damage doesn’t matter to me. The car still runs and is operational — that’s all I care about when it comes to personal transportation.
But the fact you took the coward’s way out and didn’t even leave a note or anything — that’s what ruffled my feathers.
Stopped traffic in interstate travel happens — most of us who have driven thousands of miles on America’s highways have been stopped at least once because of a major traffic accident.
I spent more than two hours parked on the interstate a few years ago — I was traveling from Pennsylvania to Morristown, Tenn.
I was nearly home — I have the choice of three exits from I-81 to get home and chose the last of the three.
A mile and a half before the exit, I came to a complete stop.
That night it was also a tractor-trailer crash, although I can’t recall the details.
We all have somewhere to get to when getting behind the wheel of a vehicle, whether it be a car, truck, rig, bike, or scooter.
Let’s try to get there alive and in one piece without doing something so idiotic and stupid — like crashing your vehicle into a parked car.
John Ross is a staff writer for the Times-Tribune. He can be reached at email@example.com.