Last week Friday I got into my first car accident. I was hanging out at a friend’s apartment playing board games and having a good time, then left close to midnight. I realized I was going north instead of south, and had to turn around. I was in the right lane and wanted to make a left turn to turn around (I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me to turn right and make a loop that way). It was late at night and I didn’t see any cars so I made a left from the right lane. The next thing I know something hits my car hard on the left and I spin.
I hit my head on the driver side window before the airbag went off. Once I came to a stop, I turned on the emergency lights and examined myself. Airway, breathing, circulation all were ok. No loss of consciousness. No bleeding or cerebrospinal fluid leaking out of my ears/nose. No obvious skull fracture, no cervical spine tenderness. Some tenderness where I hit my head on the window and ringing in my left ear but Glasgow coma scale 15 out of 15 and no paralysis. Abdomen ok. I guess 2.5 years of medical school paid off because I was able to determine I didn’t need a CT scan or any other reason to go to an emergency room. It would have been interesting to be sent to the nearby hospital and be reunited with the trauma surgery team that I rotated with last month, but I’m thankful it didn’t come to that.
The police officer appeared out of nowhere and checked on me and figured out what happened (totally my fault). Thankfully the other driver wasn’t hurt either and his car was driveable. My car had to be towed, and after getting a ticket my friend drove me home.
In the summer of 2012 as I was nearing the end of leading an urban missions team in Los Angeles Urban Project, I had a conversation with another team leader about my plan to get a car and how to find the balance between buying a nice car with the need to save money for charitable deeds. He told me that it’s not about what car I buy, but what I do with my car.
With that conversation always in mind, I’ve done my best to be a blessing to others with my car. I used it to drive my grandparents to all their doctor’s appointments. I used it to run errands for my parents. I used it to drive friends to church, grocery store, airport, or whatever needs were around me. It’s ironic that after 4.5 years trying to be a blessing to others, the last thing I would do with the car is to cause great harm.
But in the moment of my greatest fault, I’ve been blessed with much grace. I expected my parents to flip when I called them about my accident, but instead was told everything is ok and that I needn’t be too stressed as long as I’m not hurt. When I described to my friends my terrible lapse in judgment, everyone was so understanding of my mistake. My classmates have been driving me to my rotations everyday, and my church friends drove me to church and back. When my insurance told me my car is totaled and I would getting a check for the value of my car, my parents wanted to send me more money so I can buy a new car instead of a used one, an option which I politely refused since I know they’ve been saving up to replace their 15 year old van. It still baffles me that they want to buy a new car for someone who just totaled his own.
Anyways, it has been an inconvenient week without a car but one with much undeserved blessings. I hope from now on I can be just as forgiving to others when they make mistakes.