Driving Lesson

The problem with driving the same section of road too often is that you start to do it on autopilot.

I used to drive a chunk of freeway to work every day. The exit I had to take was fairly intense. It has a short ramp and a really tight corner. I believe it is marked at 15 or 20 mph, but my memory could be playing tricks on me. Regardless, if you pay attention it is very obvious that you should slow down. Which I almost always did.

Except for that one day.

For some reason, the exit snuck up on me that day. For whatever reason, I went into that corner at 65 mph.

Looking back, I know that if I slammed on my brakes and tried to stop, I would have skidded off the road and possibly rolled the car. Looking back, I realize that I needed to countersteer and maintain constant acceleration to pull my little front wheel drive car through the corner. Looking back, I know that entering a controlled skid would effectively widen my wheelbase to the full diagonal of my car, providing additional resistance to rolling. Looking back, these things are all quite clear.

At the time, however, I thought none of these things.

I hit the brakes to bleed off as much speed as possible before I entered the corner. I turned hard and broke the rear end loose, then cranked the wheel into the skid and punched the gas. I skidded through that corner sideways at about 50 mph.

I think there is a moment when entering a crisis that everything slows down. Seconds take an eternity.

And in a blink of an eye, a split second, an eternity, it was over. I survived, shaken but intact. None the worse for the wear.