Dec 31 2007
It's the last day of the common year 2007, and between the rain and low temperatures (hovering near but not quite at the freezing point as of 0730 EST5EDT) roadways in the DC metroplex are, in short, treacherous. I nearly slipped walking down the steps from my apartment building, and my car was limned with a thin sheet of frost that had to be melted away before I was going anywhere. After getting underway, however, I discovered much to my chagrin that patches of Lee Highway in northern Virginia were sheets of ice that gave the ol' anti-lock brakes a workout.
Not so much for the Redtop cab a good forty feet in front at that particular moment. As near as I can reconstruct the cabbie hit the same sheet of ice that I did at a slightly higher speed, but rather than keep going straight he hit it at an angle (while correcting, I suppose) and went into a skid. A skid that gradually transformed into a broad oscillation that encompassed three lanes of highway, including the turning lane. Right.. left.. right again.. left again.. right.. the whole time farther and farther left and into oncoming traffic.
At this moment a number of thoughts went through my mind more or less simultaneously. Everything from "Holy fucking shit, that guy's headed into oncoming traffic," to "I hope the wreckage doesn't go spinning back towards me or anyone behind me," to "Is that cab going to spin out?"
Start playback again.
From what I know of the situation, everything ended well for the Redtop - rather than getting into a head-on collision courtesy of eastbound traffic, he managed to bring the car to a stop in the oncoming lanes. The vehicle that happened to be occupying that lane of traffic started to slow down well before the cab came to a stop, and brought all of the cars behind him to a stop with them. Net result: One shaken cabbie staring at a line of workaday traffic in the morning December sun. The farthest lane of traffic never even had to slow down.
Ladies, gentlemen, and other lifeforms, there's a very good reason that being told "May you have a boring day" is, in fact, complimentary. Times like this are why.