The Day the Trash Panda Died

In my last podcast, I discussed my daily gratitude practice. I also mentioned how, when something particularly bad happens, I attempt to find some way, however small, to still be grateful. Of course, I completely and utterly failed to think of a compelling example until long after I had stopped recording and published the podcast!

Luckily, there’s always another blog post.

Three years ago, I hit a racoon with my car on my morning commute. It was dark – maybe 5:45 a.m. or thereabouts, in March in Maryland – and I was zipping along at 70 mph on mostly empty highway. (Yay for countercommutes!) I came around a curve in the road, and by the time I realized the trash panda was there, it was too late to react. He was standing up on his back legs, and my sporty sedan with its super low front bumper nailed him.

(My mental image of him is like Rocket, from Guardians of the Galaxy, and he’s flipping off my car while screaming, “Come at me, bro!”)

The car kept going. It survived the additional 30 minutes drive to my office. The damage didn’t look that bad (at 6 a.m. in the near dark crouching on the ground). But when I tried leave that afternoon, it barely made it out of the parking lot. I pulled over, called AAA for a tow, and patiently waited for my Peacock to come rescue me.

The "minor" damage to my car's front bumper from high speed impact with a standing racoon
The “minor” damage to my car’s front bumper from high speed impact with a standing racoon

My friends, I wrote TWENTY EIGHT gratitudes about this particular disaster. It’s certainly my most extreme example of finding silver linings – way better than the stupid band-aid gratitude in that last podcast! Note also that these gratitudes are AS WRITTEN, and in the order that they occurred to me, without any editing at all since 2017.

Things I am Grateful for on March 8, 2017
1) I am grateful that I can say I was fully focused on driving when I hit the racoon at 70 mph.
2) I am grateful that the racoon probably didn’t suffer very much… like, at all.
3) I am grateful that my car did not act up on the drive to work, and I arrived there safely.
4) I am grateful that Mike did all the work lining up the State Farm claim and the repair logistics with the autobody shop.
5) I am grateful that my auto insurance deductible is only $200.
6) I am grateful that I had the inspiration to take my water bottle on the trip home because holy crap I needed it.
7) I am grateful that when the car did start vibrating violently, it was while I was still in the work parking lot and not on the highway at crazy fast speeds with no good shoulder on which to pull off.
8) I am grateful that Mike came to rescue me.
9) I am grateful that my kids are old enough to stay home responsibly while Mike came to rescue me.
10) I am grateful that I have AAA coverage at a level that includes 100 miles towing.
11) I am grateful that the tow truck arrived as fast as it did.
12) I am grateful I was actually able to talk to a real human at the dealership to let them know my car was en route.
13) I am really grateful that I didn’t have to ride in that tow truck, so again, that Mike came to rescue me.
14) I am grateful that my voice held out just long enough to call Mike, call AAA, call Mike again, call the dealership, receive a call from the tow truck driver, and call Mike one more time with better directions to where I was stranded, before my voice gave out entirely.
15) I am grateful that five different people stopped to ask if I needed assistance when it was clear I was a stranded motorist.
16) I am grateful that Mike only made one wrong turn trying to find me.
17) I am grateful that Mike was able to look at my car before we talked to the dealership so he had a better sense of what was wrong with the vehicle.
17 1/2) And that he got photos of the damage for the claim.
18) I am grateful that Mike was there to talk to the sales person because there was no way my voice could keep going.
19) I am grateful we got the loaner-for-life program through the dealership so that I did not have to pay for a rental while my car is in the shop.
20) I am grateful Mike doesn’t mind talking on the phone to State Farm because WOW I really cannot talk right now.
21) I am grateful nothing else exciting happened on the drive home.
22) I am grateful that the kids are old enough to make their own dinner because I am going to drink mine!
23) I am grateful it was a nice day to walk to meet Mike to get picked up.
24) I am grateful I was wearing flat boots I could actually walk in.
25) I am grateful my car made it to the other side of the parking gate so the tow truck driver didn’t have to deal with that.
26) I am grateful that my phone didn’t die with all the calling & texting back & forth while waiting to be rescued.
27) I am grateful that my airbag didn’t actually deploy at 70 mph.
28) I am grateful it was “just” a racoon I hit, not a deer or something larger.

And, with the additional time that passed since the accident, I can also say I am grateful it was “only” $3,000 worth of damage, and that I had automobile insurance!

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