I had meant to leave early for work. One of the main intersections on the way was under construction. Judging from the traffic, though, I hadn’t left near early enough. My five-minute commute to the hotel where I worked was going to take 15. I shook my head, frustrated.
Stop and go. Stop and go. Long minutes passed. At last! I thought, nearing the intersection. I flipped on my turn signal and pulled my trusty, green Dodge Neon to the far left, turn lane. The light switched to yellow. Have to hurry, I thought. But the car in front of me took its time going through the intersection. The signal turned to red. I moved my foot to the brake.
I shifted my gaze to the spaghetti of temporary cables and traffic lights that stretched across the intersection. They dipped like clotheslines and swung in the breeze. Come on, change already! Change! I wanted to cross, get out of there and be on my way. Green. Finally! I moved my foot from the brake to the accelerator. Pressed down. Gripped the wheel, prepared to turn.
The dashboard lit up. The engine sputtered and died. Stalled out. Of all the days! I’d driven my Neon 11 years, and this had never happened before.
Cars began honking. I tried the accelerator again. Nothing. I glanced out the rear window at the line behind me. Part of me was embarrassed. Part of me was frustrated. And a part of me was calculating how much a tow and repair would cost.
Just then I heard a tremendous crash. I turned back toward the intersection. An 18-wheeler had plowed through, coming from the left. Its smokestack had hooked the low-hanging cables, ripping the traffic signals and live wires to the ground. Exactly where I would have been—or the cars behind me—had my car started up.
Construction workers rushed to clean the debris. I was so in shock, I barely noticed the policeman waving at me insistently to get moving. He wanted to clear the traffic. I turned the key, expecting silence. But the car roared to life. I drove away.
That evening I visited my mechanic to see why the car had stalled. He opened the hood, checked the wires, performed some tests. “M’am,” he said, “There’s no reason it should have stalled. No reason I can see.”