We were almost through the state of North Carolina as we traveled on Interstate 95. It was rush hour and you could tell everyone was antsy and excited to get home. Cars traveled at 80 miles per hour, and some were even traveling faster than that. I could now see why it was ranked the fifth worst highway in North America. Cars were weaving in and out of traffic at over 90 miles per hour. Traffic was getting heavy. Listening to the radio, my dad and I sang along to a familiar song we both knew, “Yeah” by Usher. “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! ”, we both sang while he drove.
My dad always loved this song, so we had the radio turned almost all the way up. The song ended and we turned the radio down. We had already been on the road for ten hours so we were beginning to get a little tired. It was almost 5:00 in the evening and we did not eat lunch, so we were both getting hungry as well. “Where do you want to stop for dinner? “, I asked him. My dad looked at the food signs next to the highway as | looked up places on my phone where we could grab a bite. Just as I was about to name off a few places where we could go, my phone flew out of my hand and my head jolted forward.
I put the last few of my personal items in my already overly-filled trunk and back seat of my brand-new-to-me 2004 Volvo S40. I had just gotten the car two weeks before that day and absolutely loved it. It was washed, waxed, and ready for the big day. It was August 7, 2015 and I was following through with the biggest decision I had ever made in my life: moving 1,100 miles away from my home to attend college. It was around 6:00 in the morning. We knew we would need an early start if we wanted to make it through all seven states in one day. “All ready to go?! “, my dad says excitedly.
I jokingly replied with, “All set, you bet! as we always said to each other. He hopped in the driver’s seat as I got in the passenger Conklin 2 seat. Because it was so early, I let him drive because I was definitely not a morning person. He put the car in reverse as | said goodbye to the house I have always known. Goodbye New York. I slowly fell asleep as my dad drove because I absolutely love my sleep and will get a quick nap in wherever I can. I slept all the way through Pennsylvania which is one of the longest states to drive through, so I was happy when I woke up to find out that we were already in Maryland. We took our first stop in Maryland.
Gas station breakfast was definitely not the best, but it was all we had time for. A bacon, egg, and cheese on a bagel and some coffee and back on the road. Traffic was great at the time. We were moving pretty quickly and for that, I was so happy. The trip was already starting to get boring. “Let’s play a game! “, my dad said. We had the radio on so we decided to play a game about who could guess the name of the song and whoever did, got a point. Of course my dad nailed the 80’s station and racked up all the points. I on the other hand, turned on “Today’s Hits” and managed to put my dad to shame on the point board.
I clearly won the game fair and square! By this time, we had made it to Virginia because Maryland is a pretty short state to cross through. Virginia was another one of those states that I dreaded crossing through because I felt like it took forever, even if it actually was only a few hours. I played some games on my phone and checked all my social media and it kept me busy. My dad and I talked about various things like sports for example. My dad absolutely loves watching sports. I grew up watching basketball, baseball, football, and basically any other sport on the television almost every night.
We talked about some of our favorite teams and players. “Did you see Tanaka almost pitch a no-hitter last night? “, I said to my dad. Baseball was one of our favorite sports to keep up on. “Yeah! He was so close. I stayed up and watched the whole game. The Yankees ended up winning! “, he replied. Being from New York, of course we are die-hard Yankees fans. We just crossed into North Carolina and I was so excited that we were done traveling through my two least-favorite states, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Conklin 3 My head jolted forward and collided with the air bags.
The items in my overly-packed back seat were now with my dad and me in the front seat. We had rear-ended the car in front of us going at least 80 miles per hour to zero in a matter of seconds. All of my personal items were cluttered around inside the car. I looked over at my dad who I could barely see with all the stuff in between us. He looked panicked and asked if I was okay. “I’m alright! Are you okay? ” I said as I almost freaked out. “I’m okay! ” he said and immediately started apologizing like it was all his fault. We pulled off to the side of the road along with the car that we had hit ahead of us where I got out to check the damage.
I immediately called 911 and the police, an ambulance, and a fire truck arrived shortly. I got checked out by the paramedics as my dad traded insurance with the man in front of us. Thankfully his family was all okay. The paramedic explained to me that I had whip-lash and suggested that I should get checked out at the hospital. I refused because I did not feel that I needed to go even though my neck was hurting pretty badly. I signed off on the patient sheet and headed to my car to take a look at the damage. It was clearly totaled and I was heart broken. My “new” car had just been taken away from me right before my eyes.
Car accidents happen all the time and sometimes not everyone comes out of them okay. I am so thankful that my dad and I were alright and that no one was injured in the accident. We had gotten a rental car and proceeded with our trip to Florida. I bought a 2005 Volkswagen Jetta when I got settled in and it ended being even nicer than my Volvo ever was. Now, even when bad things happen, I have started to always look for the silver lining. I believe that everything happens for a reason and when something tragic happens, it only means that there is something better in store in the future.