Mary Beth Writes

My friend Karen texted last night that she is okay but she had been in a car accident in the afternoon. A driver had not stopped at a stop sign, thus plowing into Karen’s rear driver-side door.

Her accident reminded me of one I was in with my son years ago. This is the newspaper column I wrote about the event.

Hold a good thought for Karen today, okay?  She texted this morning, rather poetically, “I feel like I’ve been dragged through a knothole.”


It was late last Friday afternoon and son and I were driving south on Memorial towards a birthday party he needed to be at in a few minutes. I noticed an old beater car careening down 11th street at a very high speed. I realized that it was going to arrive at the upcoming intersection the same moment as me.

Luckily, I lived in Chicago so long I don't expect other drivers to be sane. When I saw that car blitzkrieging down the side street, I did what any overzealous former Chicago driver would do. I checked my blind spot, then swerved to the right.  Maybe the beater would slam on its brakes at the intersection, but I was going to try to get out of there ... just in case.

This instinct is probably why, later, my son told the police officer, "If I had to be in an accident, I'm glad it was with my mom." The beater never stopped. It tried to turn north onto Memorial while going 70 mph. The huge arc required for the turn slammed it into the back of my car.

Everything goes into hyper-timelessness while you are having a car accident. The din of crunching metal surrounds you. You feel the impact of your body jerking, the moment vibrates all the way into your blood and comes back out the tuning fork of your spine.

The thud was still reverberating when I heard the screeching sound of the beater as it jerked away to speed north in the exit style known as "Hit and Run". If you know anything about a full-size copper brown sedan with a recently smashed in left front - could you call the police, please?

Son and I simultaneously mumbled "Are you okay?" and then "Yeah, are you?" He found his glasses first. The impact had knocked them off his face and into the side window so hard the frame was bent.

He bent the frames back and put them on.  I began to realize, not knowing quite how this came to be, that we were crosswise in the intersection.  The impact had spun our car 180 degrees.               

I couldn't find my glasses. Son looked around, "Oh, here they are." He calmly fished them out from the crack between the console and my seat.

I started to back the car out of the intersection. I wondered why it felt as though I were hitting the curb. I climbed out to look. The rear right tire was no longer upright, it had been knocked so hard it resembled a falling over Ferris Wheel. The curb sensation was the edge of the tire bumping the body of the car.

That was the moment I began to understand that if I hadn't veered, the incredible impact of the accident would have slammed into the driver's door and then into me.

My son rushes in the door after school, eats three brownies in one gulp, and then gives me a grin and a hug. Because we almost bought the farm together, we remember how much we like each other.




Really sorry I was the inspiration for this one! The car plowed into the drivers side (not the passengers side) - so, yeh , I’m really lucky that I am only sore today and that nothing is broke. I’m old and I have osteoporosis! Hyper-timelessness. So strange. So true. I feel loved from all my friends and family. I am mourning my car and taking it easy today.
Mary Beth's picture

Yep, I looked at your photo with all that damage to the driver's side and then said passenger's side. Hah. I went back and fixed the text. Be well.
Leonard's picture

Really sorry about the accident, but that line almost makes up for the rest of the awful-ness!

Wow, glad your friend K is “all right”. Having been in several accidents I can relate- your description of the “hyper-timelessness” is apt. Once, years ago, I was hit by a criminal in a stolen car, changing lanes, and spun around and ended up with my lit cigarette still in my hand. It felt like it took 10 minutes but was 10 seconds. The next day I went to work, sore, but OK, and there was my criminal, who recognized me and apologized! ( I worked at the jail.) Another time as a young Mom, I spun out on ice and was hit by a semi truck on an overpass, and truly thought in those seconds that my car was going over the edge and that I would certainly be killed and leave my tiny daughter motherless. What a miraculous relief that my 1970 Plymouth Fury stopped at the edge. I have a photo of the car at the junkyard with me and my daughter standing by it.
Mary Beth's picture

Oh wow! I'm really glad you survived those. Hah, I worked at a jail, also (as I think you know). I had just a few of those extremely odd encounters.

Add new comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Dark River

The photo is the Platte River in Nebraska. This post was a newspaper column for the Racine Journal Times in 2003.


Dark River

"I think us here to wonder."  (From "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker.)

The day was one of those glorious October days when the sun blazed through gold and crimson trees; the incense of burning leaves perfumed the air. It seemed a shame to go inside simply because night was coming on.

"Let's take the canoe out on the river tonight."

Where Heritage is Found

Last week I spoke with a woman who  is working to support MayaWorks.

I sent her this writing I did back in 2006.


I stayed several days with the Sepet family, a very cash-poor Maya family that lives in the altiplano, the mountains of Guatemala.  These people were so intelligent, gracious, strong, and hospitable.  

This adventure happened during my second day with them.

Quarantine Dairy #669 A Rerun


I have a lot of projects to get through today. I wrote this in 2006 when I worked at Target for six months. I still like it.


This week I saw an inspiring sight.  I saw a little kid completely lost in his imagination. 

When History isn't in Museums

I stayed twice for several days with a Maya family in Guatemala’s altiplano. This adventure happened during my second day of my second stay with them.

Senor Jorge, the 50ish father of the family, asked if I would like to take a walk to see a Mayan antiquity. It took a minute to understand his question since my high school Spanish was a long time ago.

Yes, I would!

Genealogy, Comets, and Pedigree Collapse

 We are still able to see NEOWISE in the evening. 

More info about how to see it here: 

Len took this photo a few nights ago. The white stripes in the foreground are lightning bugs!

I wrote this column in 1997 and remembered it this morning.       



 I wrote this in 2008 when I was the coordinator of the Jail Employment Program in the Racine County Jail.


Dear Pals,

Tuesday morning the four women in my current Jail Employment Program group went out from my office, per usual, to look for work.

Tag Cloud

9/11 17 minutes 500 Words A-Z AARPtaxes AAUW abortion Acadia accident Accountable Advent aging Alaska anniversary antibiotics antlers apples appointments Arrows art Ashland August Augustine baby Badlands balance Baldwin Barbara Barkskins Beauty Becky Becoming Esther Berry birthday bistro BLM BookReport books boy scout Bread BrokenDays BuyAngry Cabeza de Vaca Cahokia calendars Canada canoe cat romance cats cello Chicago China Choosing Christmas cilantro Cinnabuns circus clouds Clowns clutter Colonialism comet ComfortZone CommonSense community consumerism Cops Corvid-19 Courage Covid-19 Crazy creditreport creosote CrimeShows DarkRiver death Debate December DecisionFatigue decluttering democracy dentist depression Destination Today Detroit Didion disasterprep dogs dollhouse Dreams Duty Easter eBay Eclipse election EmilyDickinson eschatology Esquipulas exit polls eyes Fable FairTrade family farmer Fata Morgana firealarm Fitness Five Flatbread Flexible flu Fort de Chartres frame Franc FrancGarcia friends frugal FrugalHacks Frugality frustration Ft.Ticonderoga fusion Galena Gannets Garden GarfieldParkConservatory Gaspe genius geode GeorgeFloyd gerrymandering ghosts gifts girls gorgons GovernorThompsonStatePark Graduation grandkids granola groceries Guatemala gum guns happiness HaveYouEver? hawks healthcare Healthinsurance hearings heart HelleKBerry heroes hike History home HomeRepair Honduras Hope hurricane impeachment Innkeeper Instincts integrity InternetPrivacy Interview InviteMe2Speak James Baldwin Jan 6 Janus JoyceAndrews Judy JulianofNorwich justice Karen Lamb LangstonHuges LaphamPeak laundry LeeLeeMcKnight lemming Len Light Lincoln Little Women LockedOut Loki loneliness LouisArmstrong Love Ludington Macaw macho Manitoulin MargaretFuller Maria Hamilton Marquette marriage Marsden Hartley masks Mayan MayaWorks meme Memories men Middlemarch MilesWallyDiego MindfulChickens Mistakes MLK moon Mother MothersDay mouser movies museums must-haves Mustapha Nancy Drew New Mexico New York City Nomadland OBUUC Ocotillo OnaJudge ordinary OscarRomero osprey Outside oximeter Parade mayhem PastorBettyRendon Paul Hessert PDQ Penny persimmon photos Pi Pies pineapples poetry Preaching privacy Protest QE2 Quern quest Questions Rabbit holes racism recipe recipes recommendations Remember RepresentationMatters Reruns responsetoKapenga Retirement rhubarb Ricky rime RitesofPassage Rosemary Ruether Roses Roti Ruth SamaritanWoman Sanctuary Sandhillcranes Santuario de Chimayo SaraKurtz SaraRodriguez sculpture Sermon ServantsoftheQuest sewing Shepherd Shontay ShortStory shoulder sick sickness Slower snow Social Security SofritoBandito solstice South Dakota SpaceShuttle spirituality spring square feet staining stele Stereotypes stories StoryStarts stress Survival swim taxes teenager thankgsgiving Thanksgiving TheBridge TheMaid ThePerpetualYou ThreeBillBoards Three Thing ThreeThings Three Things TidalBore TimeBeing toddler Tom tortillas Trains travel Traveler Tubing turtle Twilight Bark Tyrone Ukraine Ulysses Grant UnrelatedObservations Up North urgency vacation vaccine Valentines vanilla Vietnam vision VivianWokeUpDrowning vole volunteer WalkingAndSeeing Wampanaog war WarsanShire weather weaving Webs wedding whines WhyAttendChurch Wiley Willa WillaCather Wisteria
Ad Promotion