JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Face to face

im_alive_02

My car accident was early last Saturday morning.

Earlier today I had to go to Nick’s Towing Service in Rutherford, N.J. to get my stuff from the trunk.

Not fun.

I hadn’t seen the ol’ Mazda 6 since the accident. To recap (in better detail than before): It was pouring rain, and I was driving north on the New Jersey Turnpike. Going below the speed limit (as was pretty much everyone), I felt the steering wheel twitch, then the wheels sliding out from under the car. Suddenly I was out of control, crossing three lanes while spinning in a clockwise motion. One spin. Two spins. It … actually … felt … very … slow … like … this. I had time to think: I hope a truck doesn’t hit me. I’m going to be OK. I’m not going to die.

Then—SMASH!!!!!!!!!

The rear of the car slammed into the cement wall along the side of the road. I checked myself. Checked again. I was OK. I Was OK! Then I checked the car—ugh. Destroyed. Amazingly (and this still breaks my heart), nobody stopped to see if I was alright. Not. One. Person. Certainly, drivers witnessed what happened. But nobody stopped. Amazing.

I called 9-1-1, but as I was on the phone a state trooper showed up. He took my license and registration, cold rain pouring on our heads, the sound of cars swooshing by. He came back up to me. “Are you the Jeff Pearlman who wrote The Bad Guys Won!” he asked.

“Uh, yeah.”

“Great book,” he said. “Loved it.”

Now, I admit, this can’t help but sound self-indulgent, or whatever. But, until he said that, I was a mess. Sort of confused, wobbly, not 100 percent sure what happened or what I was supposed to do. But there was something grounding about his words. Not sure why.

Called my wife. Tow-truck arrived. Took a taxi home.

So there I was this morning, about to look at the car. My hands were glazed with sweat. Didn’t wanna see it. Had to see it. Didn’t wanna see it. Had to see it.

Saw it.

Brought along a big plastic bag. Took my son’s jigsaw puzzle, two maps, a jack, a tire gauge, two mix tapes the wife once made, a ton of CDs and a key chain.

I liked that car.

I love my life.