In my last column, which has been a few weeks ago now, I let you all know about the tragic incident between my car and my phone in which I accidentally ran over my phone and found it moments later, smashed, cracked and lying shattered on Fourth Street near Amoco.
I thought I was having a troubling day, but later that weekend proved me wrong.
I was coming back from visiting my boyfriend in southwest Iowa, and I was on Interstate 80 headed east. It was almost 6 p.m., and I had just entered Dallas County. Naturally, I thought about potentially stopping for something to eat unique to the Des Moines area or possibly just stopping to do a walk-through of Target. What girl in her 20s and in her first job out of college doesn’t love the contemporary, clean style of Target?
The sun was setting, and I was listening to radio, both hands on the wheel, and there it came from the south: a large graceful, leaping deer.
The deer and the front end of my 2005 Chevy Malibu made perfect impact. It hit hard. It was harder than I ever imagined. The seatbelt locked, and my skin felt hot from the pressure and my instant driver’s panic. I was shaking.
I couldn’t tell what the damage looked like, but the smell was offensive and the smoke worrisome.
I creeped along the interstate for a minute, but I knew the car might not make it far.
After pulling over, I called my boyfriend, who helped calm me down and reminded me what to do. I called 911 and told them I had hit deer, needed assistance and wasn’t sure what to do in the situation.
The operator asked me to walk to the nearest mile marker to identify my location.
She sent an Iowa State Patrol officer, who showed up within five minutes and was wonderful. He pulled up, spoke with me and he was surprisingly comforting. I wasn’t alone.
While I called a State Farm Insurance agent, he went back to look for the deer. He returned a short time later and said, “I found it in the ditch. It was just a little doe.”
As I remained on the phone with the agent, he informed me that he would be back in 20 minutes because he had another call.
The insurance agent on the phone told me about my coverage and arranged for a tow truck to take the car and myself to wherever I wanted to go. Newton!
The patrol office pulled up again behind me while I waited to find out the estimated time of arrival of the tow. He came to speak to me again and said, “There’s a big storm coming in any minute, and I need to get you off the road. I’ll take you to the next stop and the tow can pick you up there. If not, I’ll take you back to your car.”
As I rode to the next town, De Soto, the officer told me about his call. A woman’s dog had died in her car, and she was too distraught to drive. We talked about how unpredictable his job is and also how the computer in the car should be considered distracted driving.
By this time there was a torrential downpour. He dropped me off at a Casey’s General Store because he said it was a nicer place to wait and gave me his card.
I sat down and made a few phone calls with the tow truck business, which sounded friendly on the phone, and a few others. I got a bite to eat and sat down with a guy who was waiting on his Casey’s pizza.
We talked for about 20 minutes about our jobs. He was a youth anger management specialist, individual values and cultural norms.
When his pizza came, we said our goodbyes, and at that exact time I noticed the tow driver pull in. Yay! Relief.
He picked me up, and his daughter rode with us. She was about to enter high school and sat in the middle. They were from Winterset, and she was making the rounds with him that day.
The driver and I talked about places we had lived, changes in our business industries and our college days. His daughter just listened, and then we talked about high school.
He had told me how dangerous his profession has become and changed over his 20-year career. He told me it wasn’t like it use to be. He said some drivers have been robbed and strangers are stranger than ever, so it is not uncommon for all tow truck drivers to carry a gun.
We came to Newton, and I took my car to Sullivan’s Auto Body. It was about 10 p.m. I had made it home okay.
Looking back, I learned a lot about other people’s personal lives and, primarily, their professions. I asked each of them 20 questions it seemed, and it seems my curiosity makes me a natural journalist.
Most importantly, I learned a lot about who is there for me. Friends in town gave me rides without hesitation. Friends in other towns offered to come visit me instead of planning for me to visit them. or they went out of their way to pick me up for an event.
I’ve had three wonderful woman offer me their vehicles when they didn’t need them, and that has been an enormous relief.
I’m so thankful, grateful and blessed — but that poor deer, on the other hand.
Oh, and my car? It’s totaled. So, I’m in need of a new car. I don’t want to spend a lot, and I don’t want a lot of miles. Is that too much to ask? If any of you know of any good deals, well, you know where to find me.