28 December 2022

My Guardian Angel

I often joke that I'm sure that in my younger days my Guardian Angel sometimes looked like this.

However, on a few occasions, there is no doubt that his intervention saved my life. One stands out in particular.

In the summer of 1996, I was driving a cab in the university town of Lawrence, KS. Every cab driver has his share of 'fender benders'. It's inevitable because the average cabbie spends 60 hours per week driving on city streets. However, serious accidents, thank God, are rare.

But my luck ran out one Sunday morning at about 02.30. Much of our business at that point in the night was ferrying students home from the pubs, which closed at 02.00. I had picked up two such students shortly after two. They were both foreign students from Sweden, but they lived at different addresses. 

After dropping the first young man off, I took the most direct and, therefore, least expensive, route to the second address. Being the summer of 1996 the FIFA World Cup Final tournament was in progress. Since we were both football fans, we were discussing Sweden's chances. The US was already out (as the host country, the US had not been required to qualify) and my own favourite, England, had not qualified, so I had fallen back on my Swedish roots to support the Three Crowns.

We were driving westbound on a residential street with a 35 MPH speed limit, when, without warning, a car crossed the centre line at high speed and hit me head-on. I had been driving at or below the speed limit and carefully watching the road. 

The other car literally flipped over my cab after hitting me. The police estimated from skid marks and impact that the other driver had been doing approximately 85 MPH.

The other driver was killed (R+I+P). I had received some serious injuries, but I walked away from the accident. 

I have little memory of the actual accident, but I know I instinctively jerked the steering wheel just before the impact. I jerked it to the left. Had I not jerked it or jerked it to the right, the engine of the car would have ended up in my lap and I would not be typing this today.

Why did I jerk it to the right? My only explanation is that it was not my time yet and that my Guardian Angel took control for the split second that was necessary to save my life.

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