NOT CLICKBAIT: That Time I Was Hit by a Truck!

This post is part 1 of 2 in the series:
That Time I was Hit by a Truck!
NOT CLICKBAIT: That Time I Was Hit by a Truck!

Ahem. Once upon a time, I was dragged down the M7 on the nose of a 57.5-tonne truck. And, not to be dramatic, but what exactly is the point of enduring trauma if not to joke about it on the internet?

This happened a few weeks ago, and I’ve only just gotten around to writing about it, so as a disclaimer, I’m not sure my memory serves completely accurately. I’m also not sure it matters because really I’m the only person who could confirm or deny; thus, my truth is automatically THE truth as we know it. There will likely be a part two, recording the aftermath. But for now, here’s this.

Imagine: You wake up; it’s 5 am on Thursday the 18th of February 2021. You have to be at work at 6. Work is a fine time, good even. You don’t mind doing the early shifts when you’ve got the rest of the day to yourself, and it gives you a reason to get your sleepy ass out of bed in the morning. You’re headed 6 hours North-West from Wollongong to Dubbo because it’s your Dad’s birthday tomorrow, and you’re a good child despite your questionable (but vastly improved) driving skills.

You packed a bag last night to throw in your car this morning, so you don’t have to bother heading home before getting on the road. You’ve made a mental list of a few small things you need to get done before you get going, though. Get fuel. Pick out a sugary drink and a snack to keep energy for the long drive. Download your favourite playlist to avoid the dreadful out-of-signal silence. Go to Supercheap Auto to buy that whopping $70 phone holder so you can safely navigate the trip. Head to Oak Flats momentarily to change out of your work uniform and get Bob to put the phone holder in.

Bob makes quick work of the phone holder, and you change into a t-shirt with a vaguely ironic joke concerning existentialism, not out of intuition but out of concern for comfort. Spoiler alert, it won’t be a comfortable drive for long anyway. You hug Bob and head off.

Predicably, it’s busy as Kmart on Christmas eve coming through Albion Park, but you’re not in a terrible hurry, so it’s tolerable. Although, you’re joyous once you get out from between rows of cars and back on the free space of the highway.

You make your way out of Wollongong, gradually forfeiting your slight fear of changing lanes to overtake. You’ve always been an anxious driver, you took your sweet time getting your license, but you somehow made it to your green Ps without ever having so much as dented a car. Moving home last year and finally buying your first car did, however, do wonders for your vehicular confidence.

You got significantly less anxious from driving by yourself in a town you know your way around. Much to your surprise, at this point, you actually quite enjoy driving, and you’re coming to understand why white men love their cars so much that they use them as profile pictures—nowhere near enough to do it, though.

While you’re driving, you recall a few months ago when you hit a galah while driving after being assured that it would move out of the way. You let the thought pass after a few moments of reflection and concern for the possibility of hitting another precious bird. After all, it’s a small car; carting the 80-tonne heart of a guilty galah murderer doesn’t seem fuel-efficient.

You resign the thought from your mind. You’re coming into a high-traffic situation with the M7, but you’re not to0 stressed. You’ve been doing so well driving today, but you’re aware that you’re more tired than you feel, so you tell yourself you just have to make it to Blaxland Maccas. Then you can stop, take a break, have some legitimate food (if, of course, you count chicken nuggets as proper nutrition, which I do).

You approach the end of your lane as Tip Of My Tongue by Diesel rolls into the second verse. It’s busy, so there’s not a lot of space to merge in. You slow down a bit to wait for an opportunity.

You see a big enough gap; it’s in front of a rather large truck. You briefly recall your Dad saying, “No matter the road rules, don’t argue with a truck. You’ll never win”. But you tell it should be fine, a safe enough risk, you think.

To summarise, it was not a safe risk after all. You merge in front of the truck, and it hits you in the rear. You feel that first hit and think, “oh, maybe it’s fine”, but before you finish that thought, you’re spinning. Everything drops into slow motion for a moment. You see the colours in your front window blur into lines as the open packet of sour worms beside you releases its contents into the air. Flying worms and Diesel. “This can’t be real”, you think “, this is a dream”. Another hit rattles the car, by then, your eyes are closed. You’re gripping the wheel and clenching your jaw so hard… as if your jaw could somehow press the brakes. There’s a moment after that second hit where (dismissive of all concrete walls and logic), you think, “oh, maybe I’m off the road now”. This thought is followed by a final, rather jarring bump that slides you about 15meters down the highway, with the front of a Truck staring you down through your driver’s side window.

Once the mayhem and noise subside, you sit there for a second (but for what feels like a few minutes). You think, “what do I do now?”.

This next bit is a series of irrational thought that takes place in a matter of seconds – because survival instincts are a funny thing.

There’s a big red button in the centre of your dash, which you’ve been dying to have a reason to press. The hazard button. Although I’m sure everyone else on the M7 is aware of the hazard (it’s hard to miss), your little mushed up pea brain thinks, “now’s the time!”. You press the button. You then think to look around the car.

Your overnight bag, which sat on the passenger side, has ended up in the backseat. Sour worms everywhere, the wildly expensive phone holder you invested in earlier today… scattered around the car. Wait… where’s your phone? You quickly locate it beside your seat. You lose this damn phone every other day out of sheer forgetfulness – and it’s a good thing because you had plenty of practice finding it quickly. You look at it in your hand – unsure of what to do. You then think, “Oh… I don’t think the hazard button did anything.” Better press it again. Yeah, that seems right.

You then recall all the movies you’ve seen where the car blows up, and your subconscious REALLY doesn’t like the idea of burning to death… you don’t look out your driver’s side door. You make a quick, instinctual scurry to the passenger side and attempt to climb out. Your shirt gets hooked on the roof clip, which would usually only be open to let the roof down (yeah, you just totalled a really cute and surprisingly affordable convertible. Hurts, I know.). Still, in this case, it’s open because the car has crumbled in such a way that the roof is a little bent open there. Obviously, there’s a moment of panic. “Why am I stuck? Am I paralysed? What part of my body is stuck in this crushed car right now?” you pull it together hastily and unhook your shirt.

You climb out and walk over to the side of the road. You’re surprisingly unbothered for someone who’s not sure they’re alive or awake or real. It’s probably the shock, but for the moment, the only sign that you’ve just been hit by a truck is your hyperventilation and general nervous fiddliness.

The truck driver jumps out from his vehicle and remarks, “Shit, I have to call my boss”, you think “Wow… what an inconvenience for you, dude.”, but ultimately you apologise and ask if he’s alright. You do not get an apology back; instead, you receive more information about his driving record – how many trucks have been involved in accidents this week, the similar accident he had yesterday… You continue to apologise, although increasingly unsure of the validity of your self-blame.

You call your Dad. He’s 6 hours away but what else are you supposed to do?

It rings.

“Hi, Dad… I just crashed my car…”