Car accidents are a fact of life. They are the big fear we all have, the counterpoint to our aspirations of driving pleasure. When we see one happening or about to happen, we will do anything to avoid it. Sometimes the accident happens anyway. Other times though, through skill, quick thinking or simply blind luck, we come out on the other side unscathed with nothing to show for it but a good story. Let's hear those stories.
-Summertime, rural Pacific Northwest, about 15 years ago-
Earlier that day I had just made the first automobile purchase of my young life. It was a 1988 Celica All-trac, 190 horses from a turbocharged 4-cylinder, all-wheel-drive, a five speed manual and a complete and utter moron in control of everything.
First things first, I had to show my friends. Things went relatively well for the first couple of hours. We were piled into the small interior of the car cruising around in moderate discomfort. Eventually though, it was time to drop people off at their houses.
I had never been to my friend Alex's house, so he had to give me directions. It was down a long, relatively well trafficked road with a 45 mph speed limit.
I took a left turn into what I thought was his driveway. It wasn't, I had turned way too early.
I now had a choice, proceed up the driveway until I found a place to turn around OR try and back out of the driveway, making the awkward "left turn" to continue the direction I was heading originally. The driveway was steeply sloped uphill and it being the pacific northwest, there were tons and tons of trees lining the road, totally killing visibility.
I decided to back out.
I was about halfway out of the driveway when I saw the semi truck barreling down on us from the first lane. The second lane (the one I was aiming for) also had a car in it.
"ohshit." I should mention here, that this was essentially my second time driving a car equipped with a manual. The first time was when I test drove the Celica. This perhaps explains my reluctance to do the normal, appropriate thing, which would be to simply go back up the driveway and try again when there wasn't any traffic. Going back up the driveway involved a.) finding first gear and b.) not stalling on a hill.
When in doubt, MORE POWER. I floored the gas, turned the wheel and found myself in front of the semi, accelerating in reverse down the road. This was exciting. People in my car were screaming.
No sooner had I completed the turn when the Celica reminded us that, reverse or not, it was still a highly turbocharged car from the late 80's. Half a second later it came alive and everyone was forced against their seatbelts as the car shot down the road in reverse, turbo at full boil. The screaming got louder.
At some point it became obvious that two things had happened, we'd passed the car going the opposite direction, and we'd begun to outpace the truck. I got into the correct lane, stopped, found first and continued as if nothing had happened.
My friends didn't forget though. They still tease me about it to this day. "Hey! remember when you almost killed all of us in front of that semi?"
It remains the one time I've ever felt turbo lag in reverse.