Saturday, August 02, 2008

Minutes and Seconds

Last week I went to Miami to see my son with a friend who needed to go to the Spanish Consulate. From the very beginning, it seemed like our trip was going to take forever. Maria and I had to stop several times before we actually got on the road. A stop to get gas. A stop at Walgreens. A stop at the rest area. Then she left her glasses in the bathroom. You get the picture. By then she was getting exasperated, and being who I am, I replied, "What difference will a minute or two make?" Little did I know I would be getting my answer just down the road.

The road being I-95. As we neared Miami, south of Ft. Pierce, the area is much more congested and the drivers are much more intense, wild, and determined. Rain didn't help much either. Finally as we passed Ft. Lauderdale, I'm thinking goodness we are almost there, when all of a sudden the traffic stopped. Silence.

Questions go through your head of course. What is happening? Will it be a short delay? What is going on? Then one after another, sirens begin to wail, and squeeze by on the left shoulder, and huge fire trucks demand to be allowed to interject themselves on the right. We search the radio. I look at my gas gauge which is low. People are beginning to stick their heads out of their cars, vans, and pickups, especially those headed to and from the airport. A helicopter begins to circle the area. Then two more trucks with flashing lights, pass us on the left which read Severe Incident Vehicle. Now we know, if we hadn't figured it out already; something major happened up ahead. My friend next to me insists we pray, and we do for all those involved. After about twenty to twenty-five minutes, we find the answers to our questions, as we zigzag between lanes and eerily across all four as we are detoured to the exit ramp on Sheridan Ave. Five mangled cars, and numerous police and emergency vehicles.

We decide to get lunch and stay off the road for a while. Finding a nice Cuban restaurant I continue to try to reach my son, but he doesn't answer. We finish our arroz and habichuelas with fricase de pollo and set off on the road again. To add to all the anxiety, I can't get hold of my son on the phone. So I call my daughter in Rochester to see if she can reach him. While talking to her all of a sudden I heard a screeching of tires behind me to my right, and screeching for what seemed an eternity. I'm searching every where to find out where it is coming from. Then I spot the black sedan careening across all four lanes and slamming into the median just behind us. Everyone was going too fast to stop to help. Fortunately, the car didn't seem to suffer too much damage, but I know the person inside must have been shaken. I'm ashamed I didn't stop.

Minutes. Seconds. They all count. The stops, the delays, were all God-sent. I can not thank Him enough.

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