Saturday, March 11, 2006

I'm Sad and I Eat

Life goes on for me and Cranky, but last night, two people died in Marin County because of a freak snowstorm. There was a 28-car pile-up just north of the tunnel that burrows through the earth on Highway 101, right after you cross the Golden Gate Bridge.
It's a twisty, scary, downhill stretch of mountain highway. I used to hate driving it on my way home from work — competetive, macho speedsters; oblivious, cell-phone using hucksters; floaty, make-up applying dingbats; anxious, stressed-out, over-commuting, underemployed mensches.
This accident involved none of those stereotypes, per se, as far as I know. It happened in the wee hours, and surely the slick coating of unexpected snow (we don't get snow in Marin County!) was to blame. Maybe alcohol. Certainly the dark night.
Cranky first learned about the accident at Starbucks this morning. He bumped into a former fellow elbow-bender, an Irish guy, from our "pub" (oh, to put it nicely) in the town we recently moved from. At Starbucks. (There, I've outed Cranky. And the Irish guy.)
Anyway, the old pal had been planning to drive to San Francisco this morning to watch some rugby, and was turned away because the freeway was still closed.
Man, I'm really hating this winter.
The picture is of a camellia, upside-down, that dropped off the tree today.
They seem to drop off at the prime of their life.


Sam said...

I heard this news when I woke up, and it made me very sad because it rings especially close to home when it is a journey you do regularly. I must have driven down that hill at least 1000 times.

I read on the news that the poor guy was arrested initially but later was found to be below the legal alcohol limit, so it would seem that the unusual weather was more likely to blame.

It serves to remind us how fragile our lives are, and how we must endeavour to enjoy every second of them whilst we still can.

cookiecrumb said...

You dear.

mrs d said...

Oh, how horrible. How many people too, I have to wonder, were in awful accidents simply because the wretched weather came so late they'd already ditched their snow tires.

Here, last year, we lost two islanders to car wrecks. Both times, no alcohol, only hurried or harried drivers making fatal mistakes. It happens, sadly, even in the tiniest of rural communities with roads we always think of as safe.

johng said...

One normal reaction to something like that is to want to blame somebody: the drunk driver, the piggy people in their oversized SUV's, the poorly designed cars, the poorly maintained freeway. But in this case there doesn't seem to be anybody to blame. Or is there? I've been down that hill not a thousand times but at least a hundred, and here's the problem: EVERYBODY DRIVES TOO DAMN FAST ALONG THERE. What's the freaking hurry? Especially at 2AM for chrissake!

Another normal reaction is to think about enjoying our lives in the moment. I tell my kids that all the time. I'm always saying this to my wife too, as she tends to be - how shall I say it - a bit more tense on average than me - but the thing is, as I was thinking just the other day while pondering Joan Didion's book about her hubby's death, being happy doesn't make death any more welcome, any more than being a miserable hump makes it less so. It just sucks, that's all whoever you are.

One more thing and I promise to shut the phuck up. At least if you're flying along a dangerous road in an ice storm you've got some reason to feel that you're at risk. The traffic accidents that really shake my world are ones like the two people - a mom and a daughter I think - who were idling in traffic somewhere in the southbay a couple years back. Somebody on the overpass above them lost control of their car, and it crashed through the railing , flew off the overpass, and came to a very rough landing on a car on the roadway below.


kudzu said...

Lordy, what dark thoughts tonight. I was astonished to find that as I was leaving a performance in the North Bay last night I had ice on my windshield and had to (maybe for the first time since I've lived here) wait until the defroster did its job before I could head home.

When I heard the news early this morning about the 101 pile-up I started ticking off any persons I know who might be out there at 2:30 am. Seems amazing that there were so many.

Who was to blame? It might have been any of us who are unused to icy roads. Other comments are right: the traffic is always frantic there and there are those tricky grades and turns we maneuver daily or often. Still.

Every second does count, Sam. Thanks for reminding us. The fallen camellia was a lovely symbol, Cooks.

b'gina said...

Being a news-phobe, I hadn't heard about this accident. But, sitting at my desk, watching what looked like freezing rain turn to snow, my first thought was how dangerous the roads would be.

People just don't believe that freezing rain or snow make a difference, at least not when they live in "sunny" California. It's always frightening to be out in it, and saddening to hear that my dire predictions came true.

ilva said...

Bad news. I always think about those who doesn't die but have their and their families lives destroyed in accidents, like one of my friends...

Jamie said...

What a terrible tragedy--it sounds as though that spot was an accident waiting to happen, and this time the elements all fell into place.

I agree with Kudzu that the fallen camellia was a perfect symbol for it.

Dagny said...

101 usually has a lot less speeding on it than other freeways around the area. (Have you been on 80 going through Berkeley at 1 a.m. on a weekend? There are usually a couple of idiots racing in the fast lanes doing at least 85-90 mph.)

When I lived in the Pinole area and worked in South San Francisco, I often took that route home (Heck. All you need to do is coast on the Waldo grade and you will maintain constant speed. Well that's for entering Marin at least) because it was a much more peaceful drive than dealing with the Bay Bridge and 80. People let you merge, no one cut you off, it was scenic. It was the exact opposite of the road rage inspired by the alternate route.

Of course, folks around here don't seem to know how to slow down when it's raining. I'm sure that they don't know how to drive under harsher weather conditions. I'm sorry it happened but it was bound to happen one day.

On another note, you watch rugby? Is this the Golden Gate league?