All Too Possible

Fri, 07/24/2015 - 7:30am

Yesterday it was hot. The air, I think at first, was a heavy, sodden blanket then realize all that sun could not have gotten though such a cover. I wonder if even out here in the middle of the ocean we are feeling the impacts of the pollution that causes Ozone Alerts to be issued in the cities on such days.

It is the week of the Harbor Church Fair and it is always dreadfully hot. This year at least there is not a legion of ladies slogging through much trash for the few treasures that came to our White Elephant Sale (the Fair continues, only the White Elephant passed on).

I walk into the group working on sorting out live and silent auction and balloon sale (an update of the old fashioned grab-bag of church bazaars) items, the bounty of a few days’ solicitation of merchants surely tired of all these non-profits approaching them. The room is, as my mother would say “hotter than Tophet” eliciting from me a phrase I never realized I often employ until several summers past. The day after the Fair I ran into folks who said “we were going to speak to you yesterday but you were saying “that is not possible!” and we just kept walking.”

It was not possible that there was not a single fan to be had on the first floor of the building. I am sure ours is not the only pastor of a small church to go off thinking “I went to seminary at fill-in-the-blank to be sent on fan search and recovery!” He soon returned, triumphant.

After a few hours, we all called it quits for the day; it was simply too hot to think. Going out to my car, which had been sitting in the sun, baking, I found a note attached to the steering wheel. Someone who quite graciously left his name and number had bumped my back bumper. It’s a twelve-year-old Subaru. I bought it with no intention of ever turning it in and it has a few little dents, some found after the fact — the first door dings at a wedding — others witnessed — the girl driving what had to be her parent’s big New York car who backed into that same bumper in the BIG parking lot, announced there was no damage and drove off, my own fault for not getting that license plate number. It is the stuff that happens over the course of years, things that are minor and do not get fixed because it is such a difficulty living on Block Island, compounded by living alone.

Still, I held the note in my hand and said an unprintable version of “this is not possible!” A bit later I handed it to someone with the simple statement “I feel like crying.”

My poor little car and I were both still recovering from being hit less than 48 hours earlier. We, my car and I, had just turned down Corn Neck and I was thinking, as I often do on a busy summer night, that the Bridgegate Square intersection is a far better place than it used to be. While the actual construction was not especially drawn out the planning went on for years, and criticism abounded (“yes, truly” she says tongue in cheek), attempts to redirect the funds to other projects were made, and the old “there is nothing wrong with it!” was a mantra to which I could only respond “drive around that corner at night for a week in summer!” Now there are sidewalks.

The first half of the summer I admittedly struggle to keep under the speed limit, on stretches of the road that are not crowded, but not going around this corner on a Saturday night in July. I proceed with caution. It was only around 9:30, relatively early and while the road was lined with cars, it had not yet hit that pedestrian overflow madness it can — and probably did at a later hour. 

I was still traveling at a speed slow enough that when I saw headlights of a car swinging wide exiting a parking lot, headed toward me, I was able to stop, allowing it enough room to correct course.

While I was thinking “this is not possible,” I knew it was. The car kept coming.

The impact was not great but this time there was real damage. It was the sound of metal and glass — or is it plastic? — that sickened me. I was expecting a little jolt but somehow hoped it would be yet another ding, a bumper bump.

Everyone who had witnessed the incident said it was clearly not my fault, but it was a full day before I could banish regrets of not having backed up and gotten out of the way, something that truly was not possible.

Oddly, I stood on the pavement wondering why no one was making any effort to clean up the plastic and glass, watching a policeman absently kick one of the larger pieces to the side. It felt so... urban.

A day or two later I read an account posted by a friend on facebook of her own recent automobile accident, and was relieved, not that her car had sustained far more damage than mine, but that she had the same response to “Are you okay?” which was “I am not hurt, but no, I am not okay!” 

Still, most people have been very kind, offering their own experience not in a game of one ups-manship but as a preface to recommendations for places to have body work done, or how to deal with insurance companies. (The car does run, the metal was not crumpled into the tire, the headlight does work, even if its cover is broken, only the front left blinker does not.)

At least today I am laughing at the absurdity of the little “fender bender” in the church parking lot. What else can one do?