Saturday, 27 September 2008

A really weird thing happened to me on the highway

I was driving into the city yesterday on a nasty stretch of national road that carries heavy truck traffic. My son was in the passenger seat.

For about 15 minutes we were following a huge articulated flatbed lorry carrying an enormous load of bricks (you may know the ones I’m talking about – they also have a gigantic piece of machinery on them that is used to offload the bricks). It was going along at a good clip – about 110kph – and I didn’t feel I needed to overtake as I’m one of those people who do actually think speed kills.

Suddenly I had a very very bad feeling. I don’t know how to put it in words – it was almost as if a colossal invisible force were coming towards me through the windscreen.

By this stage we were travelling behind the lorry in the left-hand lane of a dual carriageway, so – working entirely on an intuition I can’t explain – I indicated, checked for traffic in the right lane (it was clear), and pulled out.

The next second the straps on the back of the lorry snapped.

Because we were already in the act of passing the lorry, only the ‘softer’ debris – the tie-downs and those plastic goodies they use to anchor the towers of bricks – hit our car. Because we were travelling quite fast, they made an almighty noise and gave us a terrible fright.

I drove up alongside the lorry and hooted hysterically. My son got the driver’s attention and pointed backwards to indicate what had happened. The lorry slowed down and pulled over. We did too. I checked my car for damage – there was none.

I’m not a great believer in the huri-guri of life but I do think that if your number’s on it, you’re going to get it. For some reason, yesterday was not my son’s and my time to die – and something warned me to get out of the way of a pile of lethally tumbling bricks.

Perhaps weirdest of all is that, after I’d stopped shaking, I asked my son if he’d felt anything just before I’d pulled out to overtake the lorry. He’s also a pretty pragmatic fellow, so I believed him when he said, ‘Yes – I had a vision of something coming flying through the windscreen.’

To whichever of our guardian angels were flying as fast as we were driving yesterday – thanks hey!

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