Last night, at 2:03am, I happened to find myself smack dab in the middle of a five car pile-up on the Bay Bridge. I was on my way to drop off a friend on Treasure Island after a Plaid concert when things happened to go very awry.
In the leftmost lane of the Bay Bridge, a car (car one), had run out of gas and come to a stop. The Bay Bridge being a highway, another car (car two) was barreling down on car one but managed to hit the breaks in an attempt to slow down to avoid a collision. I (car three) saw car two's break lights and made a point of hitting my brakes as well, thinking, "Did I push my clutch in soon enough? I hope that I didn't just fuck up my transmission. I really hope that I can stop in time to not run into this car in front of me." Soon thereafter were two impacts, one coinciding with the thought, "Oh fuck, I've been hit, I hope I don't end up dead!" and the other coinciding with the thought, "Oh shit, not an airbag in the face, please! Why didn't my airbag just deploy? Is it because this impact was slow enough to not trigger it?" I was very clear on the existence of both of those thoughts and the fact that the airbag thought came second but I was, at the time, very unclear on whether I had hit the car in front of me first or if the pickup truck behind me (car four) hit me first. On later recollection, it's clear that the airbag thought, which came second, was connected to the impact with car two, meaning that car four hit me before I hit car two. There was additional bouncing, jostling and confusion as car four pushed my car and car two into car one. Subsequently, the Lexus SUV (car five), whose driver failed to take advantage of the good brakes a Lexus ought to have, plowed into the back of car four. The whole set of colliding took a very short period of time, well under 5 seconds and then it was done, pretty much before I even realized that it had started.
After everything had stopped, I sat in the car for a few moments, seriously hopped up on endorphins and adrenaline; I even managed to feel the slightest upsurge of shock in the bowels of my mind. Thankfully the hint at shock seemed to be my brain asking itself if now would be a good time to go into shock and then, upon discovering that there was no injury, deciding that shock would not be useful. My wits returning and realizing that the eternity of the accident was a mere few seconds, I decided it was best to stay in the car a few more moments to make sure there were no more collisions. After I was satisfied about the conclusion of collisions, I figured that outside a much safer place to be than inside, not from the faux-risk of movie-like explosions but from the very real risk of fire. As such, I got out of the car and convinced my passenger out as well. There was subsequently a lot of standing around and talking to the CHP. Eventually, my car was towed off and I was able to retrieve some personal effects and enlist a ride from some friends to a couch where, shortly after 5am, I was able to get some sleep.
End result, I am uninjured but my 2000 Subaru Legacy GT, which I had grown quite fond of, is likely totaled. Needless to say, I am not particularly pleased but, thankfully, I happen to be very good at getting over, ignoring or suppressing (I'm not sure which) serious emotional traumas. Also, thankfully, I commute to work by public transportation and can survive at least a short while without a car.