watching auto glass shower the backs of my children's car seats, my first reaction was cynical rage. i call it cynical because i was ready for such a terrible thing to happen. this is the kind of thing that happens when you put ten thousand dollars' worth of bicycles on a two hundred dollar pink plastic bike rack on the trunk of a four thousand dollar sedan and drive it on the 401 on a sunday afternoon in the heat of summer. this is the kind of thing that happens when you've pieced together little dream machines and placed your dreams, precariously, into the ambivalent current of reality, and watched them with guarded hope as they carry along and flicker. she told me to take deep breaths as i yelled bad words into the dashboard. i took one. i unbuckled my seatbelt and took another. then i slammed the door upon exit, and hated every tinkling of falling glass as it hit the rear dash behind the perfect curls of my formerly-sleeping children.
nothing else is important.
i was in a rage, seething with absolute maniacal anger, because there was broken glass in my girls' car seats. i just itemized all of the immediate material costs of the event in order to illustrate their very lack of importance. it's like watching contador toss his ten thousand dollar bike into the ditch because he's got bigger things on his mind than a bit of carbon fiber and cabling. nothing else mattered. it was the glass in my children's car seats. it was the shock on their faces as one was woken from a nap and the other woken from something much more profound and even more innocent. it was the fact that they were closer to the danger than i was. it was the fact that i couldn't stop it or protect them. that's my fucking job, above all else, and i didn't do it. someone was going to suffer it, and damned if it was going to be my girls.
the man was small in stature, looking tired and spent and unshaven after a weekend away. his massive black pickup truck had the ironic 'RAM' decal on the side. i took pictures of his license plate in case he wanted to make a run for it. the front end of his vehicle dwarfed everything except for my smoldering rage. he said he was very sorry. he asked if everyone was alright. he came forth with all paperwork and documents and phone numbers and addresses. turns out he works for a bodyshop in the 905. ironic. i doubt his shop works in high modulus carbon fiber or triple butted titanium or italian drivetrains. we were both wearing sandals. i was glad i had shaved that morning. he looked scrappy, but past his fighting days, not because of age, but because of maturity, the kind one gets from sticking with a lady long enough, or making a career out of something, or owning up to big trouble.
maybe my anger knew that this wasn't going to be big trouble for him.
he wasn't going to have to fix anything on his truck. there wasn't a scratch. he would have to pay slightly higher insurance, if anything, but probably not even that with the no-fault policy promos going on these days. he didn't have to put on a strong and positive, yet meaningful, face for his little girls with glass in their hair, and tell them that they're fine and don't move and it's going to be alright and no, mama's bike is not okay. he didn't open a bag of chips and open a container of blueberries and open the windows and look into the sweaty red faces of his most important treasures and know that he didn't protect them enough. he didn't instantly wish for a bigger car and faster reflexes and earlier departure and a home not in the travel requirement of the 401 on sundays. he didn't wish that he was a better man.
it's not like i feel vindictive toward him. i'd hate to have to pay more insurance. i know that the collision was his fault, but he knew that too, and we were all in a shitty traffic situation, going fast and then slow and then fast and then BANG on the 401, just trying to get home like everyone else. i'm glad the hassle doesn't extend any further. but here, in my lap, there is a huge smoking pile of trouble.
the short story is: the girls are fine. the lady and i are fine. i feel more hungover from the late night and post-incident-stress than from any impact. two out of three bikes are totaled. the rack, snapped in half and still going strong enough to get us off the road (all hail the Saris Bones 3, in bubble gum pink). i keep going back to how much bike wreckage there is, but i think that's only because i understand that the important thing, the girls, are fine and good and i didn't do enough for them and i can't think about that anymore, so i think about something i know, the bikes, and what i can start doing there. it's not exactly shopping spree time around here. we're just trying to make it through the pay periods with enough groceries. time to make some appraisals of the damage. time to make some lists. time to breathe deep and run far and know that there is no more glass in the perfect sweaty curls of my little treasures.